An interview with Lesley Macniven, Women Returners Programme Lead at Equate Scotland.

Engineering, Manufacturing & Supply Chain Recruitment

Lesley Macniven, Women Returners Programme Lead at Equate

 14th Jun 2017


Karen Stewart recently met with Lesley to discuss how forward thinking employers can engage with their talent pool of scientists, technologists and engineers, looking to return to work after a break.


Lesley, can you tell us about Equate’s Women Returners Programme?

We recently launched a new returnship programme to offset the leaky talent pipeline STEM industries experience.  The aim is to support women with qualifications and experience in science, engineering, technology and the built environment back into employment after a career break, to increase women’s representation in these major industries.

We have filled our talent pool with 40 women we are supporting to brush up their skills and knowledge through a combination of workshops, 121 support and online learning with The Open University, ready to return to work.


How can employers engage with this previously hidden talent?

Equate have been working with existing employer partners to offer women the opportunity to put their refreshed skills to use by applying for and undertaking a three-six month paid placement, to rebuild their confidence in a work environment, as the final stepping stone towards a permanent role.

Given the number of women in the pool, we are seeking to work with a new group of employers able to offer placements, especially in the fields of science and technology.   


Can you give us an overview of Equate Scotland?

Established in 2006, Equate Scotland is Scotland’s expert in gender equality in science, engineering, technology and the built environment.  We receive funding from the Scottish Government to contribute towards the thriving, diverse STEM sector Scotland needs to have to be globally competitive and relevant.

Employers use our consultancy and training services to help them recruit and retain women, support the career development of female employees and develop a fair and open workplace culture.

We support the recruitment, retention and progression of women in STEM by enabling women studying and working in these keys sectors to develop so they can contribute to advancements in science, engineering and technology and have fair access to the jobs of the future.


What do you expect from employers offering placements?

Identifying a suitable project for a women returner to deliver is the first task.  We work with you to consider this and other key factors critical to designing a placement that benefits both employer and returner.  Once you have identified a placement, and written a job specification, we will advertise this to our talent pool.  We submit applications at the closing date to the employer to select the best applicant using your usual process.  You can view the placements currently being advertised on our website to get a sense of what we are looking for. 


How do you know if this programme will achieve the outcomes you expect?

Equate ran a successful small pilot programme in 2016 with three employers, all of whom are continuing to work with us again this year.


Sarah McNulty, Director of HR Operations at Scottish Power said: “With the ever increasing skills gap in STEM, employers must look at more innovative ways to reduce the skills gap and attract future employees.  Scottish Power is once again proud to be partnering with Equate Scotland to provide opportunities for women who are skilled in these disciplines to help them return to their chosen careers”. 


If you are interested to find out more about offering work placements to Equate’s Women Returners, please contact Lesley Macniven for more information by emailing or call her on 0131 455 5141.


Should you wish to have a confidential conversation regarding career opportunities within the market, please contact our Managing Director, Karen Stewart on 0141 231 1260.


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