Return to Work program for women resuming careers

Mums@Work (now Women@Work) has announced the launch of its ‘Return to Work’ initiative – the first scheme in the Middle East offering flexible working arrangements for women across the UAE. The 12-week program aims to support women returning to the workplace after a two-year or longer hiatus.

Louise Karim, Managing Director of Women@Work, part of the Mackenzie Jones group, said: “Our decision to launch this initiative is driven by the number of talented women we have met that are struggling to return to the workplace. Many women have tremendous expertise to offer businesses in the region, but lack the platform to showcase it. The programme, developed collaboratively with the companies that partner with us, allows for part-time and flexible roles, providing the perfect opportunity for professional growth whilst balancing family life.”

She added: “We have seen great response from companies in the region, who are just as committed to bringing mothers back to the workplace as we are. Over the coming months, we look to expand the programme and are keen to hear from businesses large and small that would like to join the movement.”

The initial phase of the programme will see Mums@Work connect candidates to leading global firms such as IBMVisaAPCO Worldwide and Virgin. The ‘returnship’ offers women one-on-one mentoring, tailored on-the-job training and multiple networking opportunities to elevate their profile within the UAE business community.

Speaking on the partnertship, Hisham Darwish, HR Leader – Middle East and Pakistan at IBM, said: “IBM has decades of experience in boosting career development and creating work-life programmes that allow women to regain their position as working professionals after embracing motherhood. The ‘Return to Work’ initiative is a demonstration of leadership and focuses on strengthening attributes such as courage, dedication, perseverance and passion that are valuable in the current work scenario.”

For her part, Elizabeth Sen, Deputy Managing Director of APCO Worldwide in the Arab Region, said: “The ‘Return to Work’ programme is a hugely important initiative, which we look forward to introducing in APCO’s offices in the region. As a majority women-owned global communications consultancy, founded 33 years ago by a working mother, APCO is committed to supporting the needs of working parents. We are particularly proud, for instance, that a vast majority of our female employees return to work after maternity leave. We view this as a long-term opportunity, which we hope will give more women in the UAE the career they deserve by attracting lost talent back to the communications industry.”

Rachel Alidoosti, Regional Human Resources Manager at Virgin Megastore Middle East and North Africa, said: “At Virgin Megastore, we have a culture that focuses heavily on empowering women. Taking a break after having a child is a completely natural and beautiful choice that a lot of women make and we feel it is important to recognise the transferable qualities, skills and knowledge that motherhood brings with it. We are looking forward to working with Mums@Work to provide talented mothers the opportunity to regain their skills as they acclimatise to the modern workplace.”

Kate Lane, Human Resources Director – MENA at Visa, added: “Sometimes careers shift based on family needs and priorities, but we believe those decisions don’t diminish your value or worth at work – in fact, they can enhance your career. Diversity and Inclusion are key to Visa’s success, and so we are excited to be partnering with Mums@Work in furthering careers and enabling quality work experiences for mums that choose to return to their professions.”