According to Executive Director Tami Forman, Path Forward plays a critical role in helping hiring managers overcome internal biases that may negatively impact their impression of someone looking to return to the workplace following an extended, caregiving-related absence.
“People who have been out of the workforce specifically for caregiving violate what some researchers call the ‘ideal worker norm,’ ” says Forman. “They have demonstrably put their family ahead of their career and while we might think that’s a nice decision for someone to make as a person, it’s not the person we want to hire on our team.”
When San Mateo-based software company Medallia first partnered with Path Forward, HR immediately recognized the need to erase the stigma attached to returners. They set out to educate hiring managers and challenge their expectations when it comes to people who have spent a number of years out of the workforce.
“It’s helping people think about talent differently, broadening their expectation of what great talent looks like and what it means to have a gap on your resume,” says Lauren Jackman, director of global inclusion and diversity practice at Medallia. “I saw Path Forward as a way to help Medallions see that you can still be a very qualified candidate and make a really meaningful contribution even if you have a gap in your resume.”
On the employee side, Path Forward helps returners—mostly women—recognize the value of the skills and experiences they acquired while not working in a traditional sense. Whether they were volunteering at their children’s schools or coordinating a community effort, Forman says, women often short-sell themselves when seeking reentry to the workplace.