Cushman & Wakefield launches first ‘returnship’ programme in the UK real estate sector

Cushman & Wakefield, the global real estate adviser, has announced the launch of the first ‘returnship’ programme in the UK real estate industry for professionals re-starting work after an extended career break.  The new initiative known as ‘Cushman & Wakefield Real Estate Returners’ is designed to re-engage talented professionals and help facilitate their transition back to work.

Up to five participants recruited on to the annual Cushman & Wakefield Real Estate Returners programme will receive paid employment for a period of 8-10 weeks and will work on short-term assignments aligned to their specific skills and talents.  The participants will also receive training, mentoring, networking opportunities and assistance with attaining new skills and rebuilding professional confidence to aid their transition back into the workplace.  The long-term intention is for suitable candidates who have successfully completed the programme, to be considered for permanent employment with the firm.

Applications are now invited for the first programme which commences in September 2015.   While open to both men and women, the programme is expected to attract women who have taken voluntary career breaks to focus on family and caring responsibilities.

The concept of returnships was pioneered in the US by Goldman Sachs and has since been adopted by other investment banks recognizing the business benefits of tapping into a pool of senior and predominantly female talent to plug a skills gap.

Digby Flower, CEO of Cushman & Wakefield in UK, said: “Returnships are a win-win solution for the returners and for firms like ours and this new initiative is central to our gender diversity drive at Cushman & Wakefield to attract outstanding women, provide long-term career opportunities and help working families.

“As an industry we need to be much better at securing highly skilled women for senior-level roles and we believe that through Real Estate Returners we can access a hidden pool of talented, experienced and professional women and assist them in reigniting successful careers within the real estate sector.”

He continued: “This is the start of an exciting new chapter for gender diversity in the UK property sector and through Real Estate Returners we intend to help to remove the negative stereotyping and unconscious bias which makes returning to work after a long career break extremely difficult for professional women.”

Cushman & Wakefield is working on the programme with Women Returners, the UK experts in enabling the return to work of professional women after an extended career break.

Julianne Miles, co-founder of Woman Returners, said: “We are delighted to support the Cushman & Wakefield Real Estate Returners programme, bringing high-calibre women back into the property sector.  Following the proven success of returnships in investment banking, it is great to see that these programmes are being pioneered in new UK sectors, as innovative companies like Cushman & Wakefield recognise the value of creating a bridge back to senior roles for returning professionals.”