Model Practice Return to Work Program

Morgan Stanley

Industry: Finance

Principle II: Work-Life Balance and Career Development

In today’s world, successful careers are fluid and often do not follow a traditional path. Morgan Stanley sees great potential in experienced women and men who have taken a career break for 2 years or more and are now looking to return to their chosen profession. For those who voluntarily leave the workplace, often to devote time to family commitments, finding a way to re-enter can be a difficult road. According to a 2010 Harvard Business Review study, nearly 90% of women who left work between 2004 and 2009 wanted to return after two and a half years. Only 40% of them ended up finding jobs that matched their skills and experience. Morgan Stanley seeks to discover people who have relevant skills and experience, thereby diversifying and growing its workforce, while giving people an opportunity they generally would not have in the financial industry to return to work after a prolonged absence.

Today, approximately 60% of U.S. college graduates are women, and women account for 50% of all stock ownership in the United States. Due to this shifting demographic, women financial advisors have become a driving force in the wealth management business. Morgan Stanley knows that investing in the success of these women, their clients, and their careers is essential to the firm’s culture. Women are at the heart of what Morgan Stanley does – as Financial Advisors, as part of the management team, and as clients.

"To be honest, if it had not been for the Return to Work Program, it would have been nearly impossible for me to get back to doing what I was doing before I left." 
Carmen Nuzzo
Return to Work Program Participant
Now: Senior Economist at Morgan Stanley

Beginning with senior management and throughout the firm, the growth and success of talented women are priorities. By nurturing existing talent and hiring strong new talent, Morgan Stanley is opening the door to a future with women in the forefront of the business.

How does this model practice work?

The Return to Work Program, launched in 2014 to critical acclaim, is an exciting opportunity for experienced professionals to re-enter the workplace. Originally, Morgan Stanley enlisted the help of iRelaunch, an organization that provides guidance for women who decide to re-enter the workforce. Through advertising on iRelaunch’s website, Morgan Stanley’s internal website, and to alumni networks, the program sources experienced professionals who have taken a career break and have been out of the workforce for more than two years and places them in a 12-week internship program. The program looks to source candidates with five to ten years of relevant experience who are looking to return full-time into the workforce with a career in Financial Services. Participants are placed in roles based on their skills and interests, working with colleagues, peer advisors, technology buddies, and senior leaders throughout the firm.

Out of over 3,000 applications received globally, approximately 130 candidates have successfully completed the program. The majority of the participants in the program have been women, but the program is open to all genders and ethnicities. Over 60% of participants globally have converted their opportunities from internships to full-time employment.

The program is supported throughout various divisions globally, and places interns in positions that suit their skills, at levels of seniority that are often similar to where they left off. Over the last three years, interns have been placed across the firm, including in Fixed Income, Global Capital Markets, Investment Banking, Institutional Equities, Research, Investment Management, Wealth Management, Finance, Human Resources, Legal and Compliance, Internal Audit, Operations, and Risk and Technology.

"It’s a good feeling to know there’s a force behind you that wants you to succeed. I wanted to come back. I just didn’t have a natural path to get back to the workforce." 
Kristen Marx
Return to Work Program Participant
Now: Vice President Investment Management Business at Morgan Stanley

The program has continued to grow since its inception four years ago. The initial class was hosted in New York City and the program now exists in a total of six locations around the globe, including New York, London, Budapest, Hong Kong, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.

How can I adopt this model practice in my workplace?

1. Gaining Support from Senior Leaders is Critical: Having the commitment of senior leaders to provide an opportunity for experienced professionals who have taken a career break paves the way for a program of this nature to be successful.

2. Identify the Right Opportunities: Internship opportunities around the organization and in the right markets that are geared toward seasoned professionals will attract top talent.

3. Develop a Toolkit: Returning to work is daunting, whether the applicant has been out of the workforce for two years or twenty. Providing applicants with a roadmap that answers questions and provides direction will help smooth the way.

4. Celebrate Success Stories: Keep the momentum of the program going by sharing the stories of successful candidates throughout the organization.
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