Telecommunications company Vodafone is spearheading a new global recruitment program designed to get women back into the workplace after taking a career break.
The 'ReConnect' scheme is available to women across 26 countries and within the next three years it aims to recruit 1,000 women on career breaks. This includes 500 in management roles and 500 in front-line roles.
The program will include outreach activities to raise awareness among women on career breaks; training and induction programs to prepare women to return to the workplace; unconscious bias training for hiring managers; and flexible working options.
It responds to new research conducted by KPMG on behalf of Vodafone which estimates that 96 million skilled women aged 30-54 are on career breaks worldwide. An estimated 55 million have experience at middle-manager level and above, which could provide a significant fillip to household incomes as well as to economic activity.
KPMG estimates that the cumulative financial boost for the households of those women could be $419 billion (513 billion).
"We are committed to ensuring that our employees are drawn from diverse communities and societies. Our ambition to be one of the best employers for women in the world is central to that commitment," said Vodafone group chief executive Vittorio Colao.
"Companies often struggle to recruit and retain women in management and leadership roles. Innovations such as our global maternity policy and now our new ReConnect program can make a real difference to women who work for us today and who will work for us in the future."
Simultaneously, the firm has also launched a range of new initiatives to help women in low-income and remote communities in emerging markets to make use of mobile. Women in emerging markets are 14 percent less likely to own a mobile phone than men, according to research from the company.
Using programs designed to specifically address the barriers to access in various countries, the group aims to bring mobile to an additional 50 million women by 2025.