How Golin tackles the ‘motherhood penalty’ and recruits untapped talent

Golin is looking to close the wage gap encountered by working mothers and reap the benefit of recruiting ‘untapped’ talent as it launches its second ‘returnship’ programme this week.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) reported this week that there is a 33% pay gap between working mothers and men by the time their children are twelve-years old. This ‘motherhood penalty’ is what Golin wants to help to tackle in PR by offering women returning professional internships or ‘returnships’.

A returnship should act as a “bridge” back to senior roles for experienced professional women who have taken an extended, voluntary, career break. They are given short-term employment contracts and the returner takes on “commercially significant” assignments based on skill set, interests and prior experience, according to Women Returners, which organises returnship programmes with Golin and other businesses.

At Golin, the programme was set up by ex-SMG HR director Liz Nottingham and f1 recruitment owner Amanda Fone.

Bibi Hilton, Golin’s MD, says: “I think our industry has been complacent about this issue. Where it is a female dominated profession overall (although not at leadership level), we haven’t been forced to scrutinise this issue as closely or take action unlike those in financial services.”

A source of ‘untapped’ talent for the business 

Recent research by the PRCA shows that 64% of the people in the PR/comms industry are women. This drops when it comes to middle management and senior roles such as MD, CEO and partner level, which can be an opportunity for businesses such as Golin, according to Hilton.

“The returnship programme has given us access to an experienced, highly-qualified pool of talent that is currently untapped by the rest of the industry,” she adds.

Laura Weston participated in Golin’s returnship in 2015 and, subsequently, was hired as its permanent marketing director.

Hilton says: “[She] is one of the best hires we have ever made. She describes herself as having the energy and enthusiasm of a graduate with all of the wisdom and experience of a senior leader. Agencies need to banish the old-fashioned notion that because someone has a ‘gap’ on their CV they can’t add value to a business.”

Flexible working can fit with the wider business strategy

Golin wants to be known for creating flexible incentives for its employees. Earlier this year it launched a diversity ‘unternship’ that aims to make the PR sector more accessible for disadvantaged candidates. More recently it introduced unlimited staff holidays.

“We believe diversity in all its forms is critical to creativity. You don’t get great, differentiating ideas if everyone in the team is the same ethnicity, social demographic, gender and went to the same university. To build a diverse team you need to be flexible because you’re not hiring people with the same life goals and perspectives,” says Hilton.

In 2015, all of Golin’s mums who took maternity leave returned to the agency. Furthermore, 12% of employees have formal flexible working arrangements and half of the team are working parents with flexible hours.

Hilton concludes: “If we want to prevent the talent drain, futureproof our business and stay competitive and profitable then agencies have no choice but to think differently and support women through their entire career lifecycle.”

  • This is the second ‘returnship’ Golin will offer, you can find out more about the position and Laura Weston’s experiences here.


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