Unfortunately, we cannot rely on immigration, which has steadily decreased in recent years, to fill this gap. According to the Federal Statistical Office, however, there is an additional employment potential of 300,000 full-time equivalents in Switzerland. Why is this not being used? The answer: It is primarily women and older people, which many companies are (still) reluctant to hire. In Switzerland, for example, there are over 50,000 women between the ages of 40 and 54 with tertiary education who are currently not employed. Many companies make the assumption that women who have taken a break from work are no longer up to date and can no longer integrate themselves into everyday working life.

But at some point, companies can no longer do without this potential. They need to rethink and adapt current structures to the new circumstances. Perhaps there is a possibility for two people to share a 100% position. Or maybe one day in the office per week is enough for all employees, and on the remaining days they are free to work where and when they want. There are many ways for companies to attract highly qualified women. But women also need to change their mindsets. Challenging positions with greater responsibility only come with a workload of at least 60%. Both sides need to take care when tackling these challenges, which is not always easy. The “Women Back to Business” (WBB) executive education programme aims to help bridge this gap. During the one-year programme, participants receive an update on the most important management topics such as leadership, finance and strategy. They also complete a returnship in a company, facilitating their return to the workforce and giving companies the opportunity to get to know the returnees over a period of time.

Many companies (e.g. Novartis, Raiffeisen, Bank Cler, UBS, Bühler, the Swiss Confederation) have recognized this potential and committed themselves financially and organisationally (e.g. by providing seminar rooms) to the WBB programme – because they cannot do without the potential of female professionals in the future and want to stay ahead.

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Executive School of Management, Technology and Law

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