An Untapped Talent Pool

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'Women returners' are those who have taken a break from their career but are now looking to go back into a professional role.


Three-quarters of professional women on career breaks say they eventually want to return to work. PwC estimates this to be a group of nearly half a million women. This does not include women on maternity leave or those who are in still work, but have opted to take lower-skilled employment.

In practice mothers find going back to professional work very difficult, if not impossible. Many remain unemployed or are occupationally downgraded, that is they step off the career ladder and take on a role that doesn’t match their qualifications and experience. This group is a huge, untapped talent pool.

Tapping into this hidden talent pool brings significant benefits to organisations, who typically see a positive impact on:

  • The female talent pipeline

  • Age and gender diversity

  • Productivity

  • The gender pay gap

  • Employee churn

  • Skills gaps

  • PR opportunities.

How I can help


1:1 Coaching

Supporting women through the maternity transition is an effective way to make sure your organisation retains and develops women, so that you keep your talent in your business. Giving women maternity coaching impacts positively in so many ways - saving on recruitment costs, and building a female talent pipeline that will ensure your organisation increases its age and gender diversity at senior levels and closes that gender pay gap. It also helps make sure you're not losing talent to your competitors.

Return-to-Work Consultancy

Bringing more women returners into your business will mean your organisation will capitalise on all the knowledge these experienced professional women have to offer. Simple changes in your recruitment strategies and your working culture will make a huge difference to your effectiveness in attracting and retaining women returners. I offer a consultancy service that shows organisations how to recruit and keep their women returners, using a toolkit of proven strategies that really do work.

Flexible Working Workshops

Are your line managers or senior team on the fence when it comes to flexible working? This interactive workshop explains the benefits and challenges of introducing flexible working. It challenges assumptions and gives frameworks based on real life examples, demonstrating how a more flexible working culture impacts successfully on the business. 

To discuss the best solution for your organisation, please email emma@emmawaltham.com to arrange a consultation

About Emma

Emma has worked at director level in a variety of sectors, including publishing and recruitment, and was promoted to executive-board level at Hobsons plc, a former subsiduary of the Daily Mail Group by the time she had reached her mid-thirties. She gained extensive, first-hand business expertise in business transformation and leadership.

Before taking a maternity career break, Emma was Client Services Director at Graduate Recruitment Solutions, a division of GTI which provides end-to-end bespoke recruitment process outsourcing solutions for graduate employers.


Following her break Emma gained a Certificate in Coaching with the University of Cambridge and now works as a consultant and executive coach, specialising in supporting women with their career development through their maternity transitions.

This combination of personal and professional expertise in successfully climbing the corporate ladder and being a parent, gives her an insightful and valuable perspective on both the needs of women returners and the organisations they work for.

Organisations Emma has worked with include:

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Hobsons plc


Group GTI



Societe Generale

Case Study: Oxfam

Emma Waltham was engaged by Oxfam to work as an executive coach for its Future Skills programme. Oxfam's Future Skills programme provides coaching, educational group workshops and work experience to help women back into work.


Usually refugees, the women have often come to the UK with skills and work experience, but commonly experience a loss of confidence in their expertise while waiting to receive the right to work in the UK.

Emma helped the women rebuild their self confidence using strengths-based coaching. This approach focuses on raising awareness of the strengths of the participants and helping them to understand how they can use those strengths again in the future. She worked with them to break down their challenges into more manageable stages, so that the participants felt more able to move forward.

The participants reported that the coaching they'd received had been invaluable. They all found that their confidence had increased and that they felt more purposeful about what they could accomplish in the workplace in the future.

White Paper: Engaging Women in the Workplace after Maternity

This paper reviews the current situation regarding women returning to work after maternity and explores how businesses can re-engage them and get them on a career fast track.

It is designed to help organisations:

  • Build and sustain a female talent pipeline

  • Reduce the gender pay gap

  • Broaden diversity at senior levels

  • Fill skills gaps

  • Generate PR opportunities

  • Increase productivity

  • Improve retention


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