Mastercard (No. 8 on DiversityInc’s Top 50 List), now has its next round of intakes to their “Relaunch Your Career” program open. The program, which the company launched abroad in 2017, has grown to have over 40 participants across 14 different countries. The 16-week-long program is aimed at helping mid-career professionals who have taken career breaks acquire the skills and confidence to successfully re-enter the workforce.
DiversityInc’s Olivia Riggio spoke to Bobbi Davis, the Director of Talent Enablement at Mastercard who manages global design and strategy of the “Relaunch Your Career” program, about what this “returnship” offers and what role it plays in diversifying the workforce at Mastercard.
Olivia Riggio: Describe your career re-entry program and how it works.
Bobbi Davis: Basically, what it is, is an opportunity for us to tap into pools of talent that might otherwise be overlooked or underrepresented in traditional recruitment. So, the way that it works today is some of the folks that we’re looking at, and it’s men and women, have to be out of the workforce for two or more years. That does vary, depending on the region that we’re in or the market that we’re in … As you may imagine, someone that has a three or four or even a five year gap on their resume may be overlooked, and so this gives us an opportunity to help qualified, experienced mid-career professionals … really re-enter the workforce and re-establish their careers with an organization like ours.
OR: Is there additional training participants may need where there is the potential learn new skills?
BD: I think so … It’s 16 weeks, the experience that Mastercard provides, and we actually have a comprehensive development journey for them … Generally, what we ask is that over the 16 weeks, because we know you’ve had a gap on your resume, we’re actually going to provide you with some support over the 16 weeks. So, we have a special onboarding for them, and we partner, at least in the U.S. with an organization, iRelaunch ,who specialize in returnships. So, they help us with training our managers on what to expect having someone come into the workforce who may have potentially had a gap … Also, iRelaunch helps us with that onboarding process their very first day back into the workforce … We’re going to try and connect them with buddies and with alumni who have gone through the same thing to provide them support over the 16 weeks, and then we also do a series of workshops and online courses for them.
Things that are new, that, again, if they had been out of the workforce for a period of time, things like design thinking, the basics of AI … we have a lot of online resources. What we’ll do is we map out what their learning will look like, their development journey over the 16 weeks. So, in addition to learning about our industry, we have things like “payments 101” and we have them potentially meet with some of our senior leaders who will take them through what some of our strategy looks like.
OR: Is there an application process to be part of this program?
BD: We have an external site. It’s the Mastercard Relaunch Your Career site, and on that site, we actually post the roles that are available for them to apply to … At the end of the 16 weeks the goal is to convert them to permanent hires.
OR: How is career re-entry a challenge for people?
BD: I think sometimes when someone has a large gap on their resume, or maybe is wanting to get into a new industry or a new field of work, that is not always easy to do … The re-entry programs are looking for that diverse talent. So, we’re looking for that diversity in education, that diversity in experience, diversity in industry … I think on paper, in a traditional recruiting process, someone might overlook you … I think with returnships we’re a little bit more open to that diversity. Because of the 16-week program, we know that we’re providing very targeted development over that time, and so this gives us an opportunity to bring in talent that looks and feels different from maybe what we would traditionally be looking for.
OR: What are the benefits of looking at potentially otherwise untapped talent?
BD: Building a diverse and inclusive workforce is part of our DNA at Mastercard. I think it’s more of just continually trying to innovate and think differently about how we’re trying to find talented people to work here. And so, I think tapping into that pool of talent that may be otherwise overlooked, I think that gives us an even better pipeline that are diverse, that are innovative, that really want to be here and are really engaged.
OR: Are there certain demographics and populations that face the brunt of the difficulty of re-entering the workforce such as veterans, people who are leaving prison, or those returning to work after having children?
BD: Our program is open to both men and women … Just from my perspective and our program … it has been mainly women who have come through and have applied. We’ve got, I think, close to 95% of our relaunchers [who] are women. All of their stories are different. A lot of them are returning to work after being home for a period of time to either care for an ailing family member or those that have taken maternity leave … We even had someone that was close to 10 years out of the workforce.
OR: A lot of the studies that are out there about career re-entry involve people who are coming out of prison. Is that something that you have worked with yet?
BD: We haven’t. Our program is fairly new, so we’d be open to looking at that.
OR: What effect do you think programs like these have in the professional world? There’s a growing number of them, so where do you think your program fits in with this trend and where do you see the industry going?
BD: I’m hoping that it’s not a trend, that it becomes kind of just one way that we tap into diverse talent. We’ve got internship programs, apprenticeships, we have this returnship program … I hope that they all become mainstream and that it’s one way that we’re tapping into nontraditional talent.