SapientNitro announces return to work scheme to address the industry’s ‘critical’ diversity problem

EMEA CEO Nigel Vaz announces the launch of the Returnship

SapientNitro has today (20 June) publicised a new internal programme called the Returnship, designed to allow staff taking a career break an easy transition back into the work place.

The scheme is a three month paid programme for experienced industry professionals looking to return to work. Initially offered to three candidates in the London office, the Returnship aims to help returnees reintegrate into agency life with updated skills training and experiences.

The programme evidentially hopes to improve the dominance of men higher up the workforce ladder by giving new mothers an extra incentive to come back to work following maternity leave. The Publicis company cited government research that stated the proportion of women working in the creative and digital industries is currently at 26 per cent, down from 33 per cent in 2002.

However Nigel Vaz, EMEA chief executive at SapientNitro, was eager to point out that the Returnship is open to all people, and not just mothers. He told The Drum: “This is not just about women. That’s where the original idea started out, but there’s lots of people [that can benefit from it].

“One person that we’re in conversation with lost his job at 9/11. It could be due to an economic challenge…it could be for any number of phenomenon that people fall out of the workplace.”

The news was announced one day after the agency’s group chief creative officer, Donald Chesnut, spoke on a panel discussing diversity at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In a conversation with The Drum afterwards, Chesnut said he believed the industry’s lack of diversity is “bad, and getting worse”.

He explained: “I think the situation that we have today is going to be all the more worse in the next five to 10 years. It’s critical.

“As time has gone on, [humanity is] becoming more progressive, but the industry isn’t becoming progressive. So we have new approaches towards meeting the needs and engaging different audiences, but I don’t see the internal creative teams changing as quickly as they should."

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