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Returners workstream blog

Returners workstream blog

Worker with laptop


Rachel Harris

 Rachel Harris is the co-lead of the Diversity Project Returners workstream.

As another year draws to a close, it is time to reflect on 2019 achievements and look forward to 2020’s aspirations. Part of this process of reflection has (finally) spurred me on to launch the Diversity Project Returners workstream blog.

I am co-chair of the workstream, a returner myself (I took 8 years “off” after the birth of my second child and in returning to work switched from the sell side to the buy side), a mother of three and, oh yes, in my spare time I lead the credit and equity investment specialist team at Aviva Investors. 

At the beginning of the year, our workstream started discussing a cross-company returners programme for the investment and savings industry. I had just started a new job and the workstream is made up of volunteers; we participate in this workstream “on the side of the desk”. It seemed like a nice idea but how on earth were any of us going to find the time to commit?

Having told Ignites Europe at an event in June that this was something we were seriously considering, I felt like our feet were to the fire. We discussed a relatively ambitious timetable for the programme over the summer months; we were to find participant companies in the run up to Christmas, with a view to “launching” pre-Christmas and running the programme itself from April-October 2020.

But come October, we still had very few leads on which firms might wish to participate. We held a council of war and decided we needed to focus on contacts we actually knew at firms rather than “cold-emailing”. And our efforts started to pay off. One, then two companies signed up, and suddenly it felt like a snowballing effect. We now have five companies* signed up and we are looking at a cohort of 15 returners. A drop in the ocean but a step in the right direction!

The success in bringing together this programme feel almost like a parable for the hard work you need to put in if you want to become a returner:

  1. Don’t lose sight of your dream.
  2. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.
  3. Dig out your contacts. Focus on who you know and use them as a platform to expand your network.

Wishing you all a happy Christmas and a fruitful 2020 when I am sure you will find the job that your heart most desires.

To find out more about our cross company programme, that will run for six months starting on the 27th of April 2020, click here.

*Huge thanks to the five participant firms (BNY Mellon, Fidelity International, Willis Towers Watson, Blackrock and LGIM) as well as the entire workstream (and in particular Ulla Pitha, Anna Strillacci and Women Returners’ Julianne Miles and Hazel Little) without whom this dream would never have turned into reality.


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