dxw Returners’ Programme

As dxw grows, we want to build an inclusive, diverse company based on our values.

Simply put, we believe that diverse teams create better services. The diversity of thought we get from teams of people from different backgrounds means we can approach problems with greater empathy. One of the ways we can create more diverse teams is to look beyond the usual recruitment channels.

The numbers

While there are men who end up economically inactive, the vast majority of potential returners are women. Generally, you’re considered a returner if you’ve been out of the workforce for two years or more.

According to figures from the Government Equalities Office, at the end of 2017, there were 1.9 million women economically inactive, many of whom have professional or managerial experience. From the same report though, they’d found just 40 returners programmes at the end of 2017, which seems wholly inadequate given the scale of the problem.

Starting a returners’ programme

In 2019 dxw will launch a returners’ programme so we can access a largely untapped talent pool.

As with any work, we plan to do this in the open and are starting with discovery to understand the needs of the people who might enter the programme. We are keen to talk to people who’ve been on career breaks, perhaps women who’ve taken career breaks after starting families. Other people might have stepped out of the workforce to care for someone.

Anecdotally, we know that it is surprisingly easy to fall out of the workforce and increasingly difficult to re-enter. Apart from the difficulties of finding a role that offers flexibility, it is hard to maintain your self-confidence after a prolonged period out of work.

Sometimes, people take on lower-paid or freelance work to get back into work but this can be a barrier to return, particularly in digital roles. There is often a perception that you need to be up to date on the latest tools and techniques to be employable. Part-time working could be important and for others, flexibility around working hours.

Rebuilding digital capability

For some people, looking to return to a full-time role, there could be opportunities to work in delivery teams shadowing and pairing with teammates. Over time, as their confidence grows, they would step up and take on more responsibility from their partners.

This model would likely suit anyone wanting to return to a practitioner role in a delivery team, perhaps as a developer, delivery or product manager or researcher.

In an agency, it is easier to fund this model if the returnee is going to move into a billable role. So to fund the role, initially, they could be billed at discounted day rates during this capability-building phase.

For people with experience in more senior roles, these are more straightforward to do on a part-time, say three or four days a week basis. Again, there would be an opportunity for a returnee to start the role as part of a pair and step up as their confidence grew.

Business operations roles

As dxw grows, so does its business operations capability which is supporting teams across multiple client locations, two dxw businesses (dxw  and Tradecraft) and offices in London and Leeds.

This creates opportunities for a larger range of potential roles that could be included in the returners programme. Also, given these roles are not billable to our clients, this opens up options for part-time working, job shares and flexible hours.

It also raises the possibility of a supported programme for returners, where we offer shorter-term, paid work experience to get people exposed to working life and rebuild their confidence.

Design with real people

As ever, it is best to design things based on the insight and experience of real people.  We would love to talk to people who are looking to return to the workforce and understand the kind of support they’re going to need. Please share this link and encourage anyone who might be interested to get in touch.