Designed to attract talented women to return to the workforce, the Vodafone ReConnect programme is embarking on a global recruitment programme, targeting 1,000 recruits within three years from 26 countries. It should complement other Vodafone global initiatives, such as the global maternity policy implemented in March 2017, aimed at supporting women in the workforce.
Their two major initiatives hope to increase opportunities for women in the workplace and enhance life prospects for women in emerging markets.
Vodafone is committed to increasing the proportion of women in management and leadership roles. Under the ReConnect programme, up to 500 women on career breaks will be recruited into management roles over the next three years, accounting for around 10% of all Vodafone external management hires over that period. In addition, Vodafone will recruit up to 500 women on career breaks into a range of frontline roles.
The 26 countries where Vodafone has an operating business are: Albania, Australia, the Czech Republic, the DRC, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Lesotho, Malta, Mozambique, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
More support needed for returning female employees
Economic research commissioned by Vodafone shows an estimated 96 million skilled women aged 30-54 on career breaks worldwide, of whom an estimated 55 million have experience at middle-manager level and above.
In a separate survey, more than 80% of the 500 women who are on career breaks expressed the need for more support for returning female workers. A total of 61% wanted the option of flexi-time while 51% preferred part time work.
The ReConnect programme will include recruitment outreach activities to establish contact and raise awareness among this target group, training and induction programmes to enhance and refresh professional skills, fair and more accepting attitudes by hiring managers and employment terms that incorporate flexible work arrangements.
Burcu Erdur, a senior manager with Vodafone Turkey who took part in the pilot ReConnect programme after a three-year career break, said, “I felt like my career break wiped clean all of my previous career achievements; it was as if I had never worked. It is very hard being a working mum but it is manageable with the right support. ReConnect gave me this.”
Vodafone Group Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said, “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. 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 programme can make a real difference to women who work for us today and who will work for us in the future.”
Transforming women’s lives in emerging markets
Apart from facilitating the re-entry of women to the workforce, Vodafone intends to enable more women in low-income and remote communities in emerging markets, particularly in India and Africa, to gain greater access to mobile connectivity.
Already, the most basic voice and SMS devices using low-cost 2G mobile phones has enhanced millions in these marginalised communities. Mobile connectivity plays a key role in many areas of daily life, from education, healthcare and business creation to greater financial inclusion through access to mobile money services such as Vodafone’s M-Pesa. The Group intends to bring mobiles to an additional 50 million women by 2025.
As in the words of Vodafone Group Chief Commercial Operations and Strategy Officer Serpil Timuray, “When you put a mobile phone in a woman’s hand for the first time, you change her life forever. Mobile enables women to learn about the world around them, build a business, help educate themselves and their children, get access to healthcare advice and support and achieve financial security in countries with limited conventional banking services. We believe Vodafone has a powerful role to play in helping women everywhere achieve their full potential.”