Australian skincare brand Alpha-H has partnered with five other businesses to create a ‘returnship’ program to help more women re-enter the workforce.
In its first year, the ‘Encoreship’ program will offer six paid, full-time work placements across the participating businesses to women who have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time.
The placements will be for three months at Alpha-H and participating businesses Adore Beauty, Mamamia, DISSH, Next Level Online Marketing and Ettitude.
Among the positions available in the first round of the program are a brand and marketing manager role at Alpha-H, customer experience adviser to Adore Beauty and a people and culture executive at DISSH.
The workers, or ‘Encorers’, will be employed directly by the partner brand where they are placed. The salary will be determined based on their individual experience and the role they are hired for.
The Encorers will also be given access to mentorship and coaching from Six Degrees Executive towards the end of their placements to help plan for the next phase of their careers.
The program is open to anyone who identifies as a woman, who has had more than 12 months out of work, and who has had difficulty re-entering the workforce.
A mission to help
Launched earlier this month, the concept for the Encoreship program was developed by Alpha-H chief commercial officer, Tina Randello, who was inspired to take action when a friend found it difficult to re-enter the workforce after giving up her job to homeschool her children during Victoria’s strict lockdown last year.
This led Randello to do her own research into the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on women, and come up with a new way that Alpha-H could take action.
The prominent skincare brand was founded by Michelle Doherty in 1995 and today has a workforce comprised of 70% women.
“We wanted to take a collaborative approach, partnering with likeminded brands to form a brand collective with the mission to empower women through action and advocacy,” she tells SmartCompany.
While Randello says long-term employment with one of the participating brands won’t necessarily be an option for all participants in the Encoreship program, there may be cases where ongoing roles become available.
“The Encoreship’s goal is to give each candidate valuable experience and commercial outcomes that they can talk to with future employers,” she says.
“We believe this is the best support we can give each Encorer.”
Additionally, Randello says the program will aim to help each candidate build confidence and connections, both within the business where they are placed and among other participants in the program.
Randello says Alpha-H hopes to add more partner brands to the Encoreship each year and expand the program to the US and UK too.
She adds that there are important things all businesses, in the beauty industry and beyond, can do to better support women re-entering the workforce, including offering flexible work arrangements and focusing on output rather than hours worked.
Randello also encourages businesses to be open minded and look for transferable skills and a great attitude, as “everything else can be learnt in the role”.
It’s also important for businesses to offer mentorship to women within their businesses when they return from extended breaks, she adds.
Applicants for the Encoreship program are now open and the placements will begin in July.
More information is available from the Alpha-H website here.