Name: Fay McFarland

Career break: 3 and a half years

Company placed into: Phoenix Group

New role: Business Analyst

Are you, like us, a little tired of hearing about the “Mothers’ Penalty”?   When will people start talking about the “Mothers’ Gift”?

Yes, women do often face challenges keeping their career on track after starting a family, but it isn’t all doom and gloom.  More and more organisations are recognising that women who may have stepped back when they have young children are raring to go a few years later.  And many of those organisations are our clients.

Earlier this year we launched our first cross-market Insurance returner programme with the aim of helping women return to their careers in Insurance and in September fifteen such women took up their places.

One of them was Fay McFarland who had a planned 3 and a half year career break after having her second child in 2018.  After completing a degree and a post graduate qualification, Fay had also qualified as a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). She then built a successful career as a business analyst, working in Financial Services for over seven years, before taking a break.

After her youngest started nursery, Fay was keen to return to work and when Inclusivity founder Stephanie Dillon reached out on Linked-in, she jumped at the chance to apply for the programme.

“All the pieces slotted into place” she explains.  “Emma did a really helpful review of my CV and talked about my previous work experience.  It all felt very informal, friendly and constructive.”

Fay’s past experience immediately jumped out to the hiring manager at Phoenix.  She had clearly led a number of complex projects and was able to manage some difficult relationships.  It was easy to see why she had been a valued team member and to imagine how she could contribute to his own team.

Fay is working as a Business Analyst for The Phoenix Group in a role which allows her the flexibility she needs to accommodate to childcare needs.  She is benefiting from on-going support from the Inclusivity coaching team and her line managers who are committed to helping her make the transition back to work.

Fay adds “I totally understand there will be challenges around juggling family commitments but I am excited about using my previous experience, building on it and working on different projects”

Insurance is an industry Inclusivity has worked with for some time and we have excellent connections with the UK’s top employers. If you are on a career break seeking to return to this industry we urge you to submit your C.V to us here. Or view all opportunities here, all candidates we place will receive our unique 1:1 coaching and on-going support to ensure your transition back to work with confidence

We will keep you posted on Fay’s Journey.

Elspeth’s return to Insurance

Elspeth Fairgrieve is a qualified lawyer who had taken a five year career break for health reasons.  She had taken a role working for a charity but had begun to think about returning to her career as a lawyer when she saw an advert for the Cross Sector Insurance Returner programme.

We spoke to Elspeth about her experience and also to Stephanie Scrimgeour, of The Phoenix Group, where Elspeth now works.


How did you find the application process?……

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How Returner Programmes Help Women Back into Work

Kristin returned to London from Hong Kong newly divorced, with three children and a five year career gap on her CV.  In Nerina’s case, it was seventeen years since she’d worked as a banker.  Elspeth had to leave her role at an insurance company for ill health reasons and was now working part time for a Scottish charity.

All these women came from very different backgrounds.  What they had in common was a desire to get their professional careers back on track.

Two Types of Barrier…..

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Nerina Wright, her story upon joining Axis Capital as ESG London Market Lead after a 17 year career break.


We are taught to fit in from a young age. That has transcended into the core of working in organisations.  While it is true that  a certain amount of fitting has to happen – we have to interact with others, to be understood in a way that others can interpret and connect.  Yet, fitting in doesn’t build trust.  It simply makes you easy to overlook (Seth Godin).

The chance to shine, comes from not fitting in on purpose.  Yet organisations that avoid the temptation to the norm and truly invite employees to bring their whole selves to work, are few.  All too often the adage ‘bring your whole self to work’ is pure rhetoric – a tick box exercise matching skillsets to job specs by gatekeepers who lack the courage to seek the authenticity that is key to blight the conformity trap.

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One Path Back to a Fulfilling Career

By Lisa Unwin Partner of Inclusivity Partners and Co-founder of Reignite Academy.

How returner programmes create opportunities for women to reboot careers in mid-life

Kristin returned to London from Hong Kong newly divorced, with three children and a five year career gap on her CV.  In Nerina’s case, it was seventeen years since she’d worked as a banker, spending much of the intervening years working for NGOs.  Elspeth had to leave her role at an insurance company for ill health reasons and was now working part time for a Scottish charity.  Susan had stepped away completely to focus on her son who had special educational needs.

Lawyer, banker, insurance professional, engineer:  all these women came from very different backgrounds.  What they had in common was a desire to get their professional careers back on track.  Why?  A mix of reasons.  Changing circumstances meant they had more time, a drive to earn more money, a desire to be a role model to their children.  Above all a feeling that they had unfulfilled potential: that there was more to come in their professional lives. 

Two Types of Barrier…

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Ramboll launches Return to Work programme for career break engineering professionals

September 2021

Ramboll, the global engineering, design and consultancy company, has launched its new UK ‘Return to Work’ programme for people who have taken a break from their career in engineering, design, project management or consultancy.

Developed in partnership with Inclusivity Partners, the returning talent experts, Ramboll’s six-month paid programme will allow selected participants to return to their career from where they left off, applying their expertise to exciting projects whilst receiving training, coaching and mentoring throughout to help them have a smooth transition back into the workplace.

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Ground breaking programme exceeds targets and sets out plans to extend its reach

Monday 12th September 2021, London:

In March this year, nine leading firms – brokers, insurers and long term savings and retirement businesses –  launched a programme to enable “career break” professionals to return to the insurance industry.  Organised by diversity and inclusion experts Inclusivity, and supported by the Insurance Families Network, the programme provides opportunities across all disciplines, including underwriting, broking, claims, actuarial, exposure management, risk and some corporate functions.

Read more

Wondering whether a Returner Programme is for you?

Wondering whether a Returner Programme is for you? Will it fit in with your other commitments and are you ready to take a leap into a new career path? At Inclusivity we know there are many worries people have surrounding going back to work and whether it will work for you as an individual. It’s why we love to share stories of those who have returned to their careers successfully. Read more

Inclusivity Transitional Coaching Services

Nine leading insurance industry businesses announced the creation of a program in the UK that will enable “career-break” professionals to return to work.

The program will enable participating firms to tap into the “forgotten army” of experienced women who are ready to return to work after a career break, said Stephanie Dillon, founder of Inclusivity Partners, the organization delivering this program. Read more

The City

Industry backs returners programme to support ‘career break’ insurance women

Insurers and brokers have backed a programme which will allow women and men who have taken a career break to return to the industry.

The programme, which is open to applicants now, will offer successful candidates a six-month paid placement at one of the participating organisations and one-to-one specialist training. Read more