I have had countless conversations with women who have taken time off to raise their family or take care of a sick parent on how difficult it is to get back into the workplace. If you want to return it should be seamless. I believe that companies realize there are a lot of smart women out there who could be assets to their work place but they do not know how to find them and get them back into the swing of things. Our daughter Emily wrote a thesis on this exact topic. Her data was spot on. Companies need to help women who have left the workplace to onboard and that is exactly what Path Forward is doing.
Matt Blumberg, the CEO at Return Path’s CTO came into his office and proposed that they create a structured program of paid fellowships training women to reenter the workforce. As we say in the start-up world, he found product market fit. They realized that there has to be a process. Technology has changed since many took off so the program is about education, mentorship and a roadmap to create success by brushing up on their skills. The proof is in the pudding.
Soon after Matt started to get calls from other large companies on how they could onboard women too. He decided to take the program out of Return Path and create a separate non-profit company around this mission and call it Path Forward. He asked Tami Forman, who has seen the success at Return Path and is passionate about this issue having two kids herself, if she wanted to be the Executive Director of Path Forward.
Non-profits need boards. Matt called me. I couldn’t say no. This is something I have been talking about for years. Dozens of decks have crossed my deck with a desire to fix this issue but I do believe that it should be a non-profit. Return Path is sharing the curriculum that has a proven track record and train other companies to do the same thing. The hope is that in 10 years, 10,000 companies later that there won’t be a need for an organization like Path Forward.
Today we are launching Path Forward in coordination with a campaign on CrowdRise around our mission so we can scale quickly. I have talked to a few women at Return Path who have gone through the program and they are so happy and beyond indebted to the company for giving them an opportunity to return to work. A win for everyone. Happy companies, happy workers make happy families but more important a next generation of kids see that their Mom can go back to work.
You can also read about Path Forward on Fortune.
This is a wonderful approach to addressing a very challenging problem that needn’t be so challenging. I coach many, many women (and men) who have taken time off work to raise children or care for a sick parent, and are now determined to get back into the workforce.Whether it’s 3 months or 15 years, they all share the same concerns: Are my skills outdated? What do I need to know now? Does my prior experience count? How will my “break” be judged? What will it be like to work for someone younger than me? Do I even want to be doing what I used to do? They feel excited, ready, hopeful, enlivened, grateful, but also quite scared, doubtful, restless, uncertain, vulnerable, insecure, self-conscious. They need support, guidance, direction, community, acceptance, confidence, empathy, dignity, opportunity, choice, competence, inspiration, hope, purpose, peace of mind.Most of all, they want to be known beyond their family role — to have a professional identity. They have already made a huge contribution to the world (with sacrifice) for the care and nurturing they have given to their loved ones. But they have so much more to give. And in our society where many people just want to take, we need them.
This definitely gets a
That’s very creative. Nice.
Love it! Donated (and would love to do more – so keep us posted).
Really powerful stuff! Thanks for being a leader in this area.