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The BP Returnship Program and the Mom Project Aim To Bring Employees Back to the Industry

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The BP Returnship Program has selected five women from The Mom Project's network as part of the inaugural group of the program, which aims to support women and men who have stepped out of the workforce for family or personal reasons and are now ready to return, often a difficult transition.

A curated track spanning various functions, including sales and marketing, finance, human resources, and strategy, was created for each returnee. Their work will focus on a series of project-based assignments lasting 4–6 months. In addition, throughout the course of the program, networking and mentorship opportunities are available to participants, creating a comprehensive learning experience. At the conclusion of the program, each participant may have the opportunity to apply for a regular position within the company.

The Mom Project is a platform for enterprises to connect with highly skilled female talent. "So often, companies pass up highly qualified candidates simply because of a break in their resume. Mid-career breaks from the workforce should be celebrated, not discouraged," said Allison Robinson, founder and CEO of The Mom Project.

"The BP Returnship program gives us the opportunity to access a slate of candidates that we typically have not seen before and who are looking to get back into the workplace," said Doug Sparkman, chief operating officer, BP Fuels, North America.

The program was created by two BP employees, Brian Zellner, US downstream resourcing manager, and Christine Taktajian, senior resourcing advisor. The concept of a returnship program presents solutions to two challenges:

  • It opens the doors to attract diverse and often hard-to-find, mid-level candidates for short-term, project-based work with the chance for permanent retainment.
  • It provides candidates the opportunity to explore a new work environment and substantial time to consider whether returning to work full-time is a viable option.

"In today's competitive employment landscape, a growing number of working professionals no longer have the cookie-cutter, traditional vertical career path," said Zellner. "Men and women are taking mid-career breaks for a number of personal reasons and we wanted our hiring process to reflect these changes."

The program is a part of BP's initiatives to foster an inclusive environment. The company has stated a diversity goal of having 25% of group leaders and 30% of senior level leaders be women by 2020. The company plans to continue the returnship program in 2018 with a second team that will encompass additional disciplines and office locations.

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