The Encoreship Is Connecting Brands to Skilled Australian Women Looking For Work

Now in its third year running, The Encoreship is providing a pathway for skilled women to re-enter the workforce, and beauty brands the chance to do good, writes Hannah Gay.

To our merit, the Australian professional beauty industry is female-centric; and we’re not just talking about those we treat.

According to The Australian Bureau of Statistics, 97% of Australian beauty therapists identify as female and the occupation serves as one of the top five most female-dominated industries in the country.

It’s to this point that we are best positioned to understand the struggles women face in attaining work after a period of extended leave.

Women in the workforce

The Federal Government’s 2023 Status of Women Report Card revealed that women continue to be less likely to participate in the workforce (62%) than men (71%), and more likely to work part-time (43%) than men (10%).

Women also remain underrepresented in leadership roles, even though social discourse suggests the gap is lessening. Despite the decline of Australia’s unemployment rate among women to a low of 3.4% in July 2022, current data shows the gender pay gap progress has stalled.

According to Dr Leonora Risse, Senior Lecturer in Economics at RMIT University and a Research Fellow with the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, factors like post-pandemic economic uncertainty, inflation and the rising cost of living has led to more women rejoining the workforce out of financial necessity, disproportionately moving into lower-paying jobs.

Women often find themselves coming back into the workforce at the bottom of the ladder, with less bargaining power, being assigned roles that diminish their capabilities and don’t reflect their true value, and/or having to ask themselves, ‘What is the lowest wage I’m willing to accept?’, with increasing economic pressure meaning having to accept a lower paid position against the alternative of having no job at all.

The argument that women are any less skilled than men is flawed, Dr Risse argues. “We need to stop using ‘more experience’ or ‘more training’ as the reason women are not being selected for roles. Australian women are already among the highest educated in the world. Gender gaps in workforce outcomes are not a matter of women having less capabilities than men. It’s a matter of women’s capabilities not being fully recognised and valued.”

“Gender gaps in workforce outcomes are not a matter of women having less capabilities than men. It’s a matter of women’s capabilities not being fully recognised and valued.” – Dr Leonora Risse

Founding The Encoreship

To provide a solve, Alpha-H’s Chief Commercial Officer Tina Randello founded The Encoreship in 2021 – a program specifically designed to provide a channel through which women can apply for, and be fast-tracked into roles that allow them to best utilise their skills.

Suitable applicants are often those who have been out of the workforce for some time (due to child rearing, carer responsibilities, personal illness, and so on), as well as those currently employed but looking for an opportunity to advance their career and move into higher roles.

While a return to work sounds straightforward in theory, Tina notes that an assumption “that her skills have deteriorated and her capabilities diminished” runs rife across the board. “While of course there will be new knowledge that women returning to the workforce will need to be updated on and skills to be refreshed, it’s important that women don’t let this assumption cloud them from recognising the skills and experience that they still hold that don’t diminish over time. In fact, once women become mothers, they gain many other productive capabilities, especially the art of efficient multi-tasking!”

Gender biases can hinder the career progressions of many, which often boils down to gaps in a person’s CV leaving the wrong impression. “Instead this should be viewed as someone who has a diverse and holistic life experience which brings added insights and strengths,” Tina says.

Alpha-H’s Chief Commercial Officer Tina Randello founded The Encoreship in 2021.

Enrolment in The Encoreship provides opportunity not just for the individual, but for the onboarding business. Recruitment agencies connected to the program work to assign roles made available by partnering Australian businesses to those who apply to be involved.

“The program ensures that women are being matched to the jobs and growth opportunities that fully recognise their skills and capabilities,” Tina adds. “It paves future pathways for women, rather than relegating them to roles without prospects for expansion, innovation and progression. It doesn’t leave women doubting their capabilities but instead lifts them up the roles and opportunities they deserve.”

How can beauty brands get involved?

Job roles have already been offered with partnering beauty brands including Alpha-H, Adore Beauty and recently, Ultra Violette. “Roles in marketing, event management, project management, customer service and HR have been popular roles with Encores, with many not coming directly from those functions in their previous work experience, but with great transferable skills,” Tina notes. “Businesses that are open to flexibility, recognising transferable skills, diversity and that can look beyond the CV would all be perfect brands to join the program.”

While as many as 250 women applied for The Encoreship’s most recent uptake, job offerings remain limited to the number of participating brands. “We would love to hear from businesses keen to join the program,” Tina says. “If gender equality and diversity is important to your business or brand, The Encoreship is an established program that businesses can easily slot into.”

Alliance with The Encoreship provides a beauty brand the opportunity to stand up for the rights of the women they employ and for the industry it represents. “They will be partnering with other like minded brands where the connections have shown to be deeper than the program alone. Importantly, it’s a great way to get work done that your current resources are not getting to, such as a project or adding resources to expedite an initiative. Alpha-H and each brand has found the program very fulfilling personally and professionally.”

“If gender equality and diversity is important to your business or brand, The Encoreship is an established program that businesses can easily slot into.” – Tina Randello

For the business that opts to partake, the recruitment process is driven by them. Meet-and-greet sessions for Encores, as well as personal development training are provided at no cost. We’ve had many super experienced, amazing Encores join the program. Every story and journey is different but what is common – capable, motivated women who have so much to offer, they just want the ability to demonstrate what they can do.

We’ve had senior finance and IT backgrounds move into HR roles, visual merchandising move into project management and beauty therapists move into customer care to name a few of the functional shifts that have been successful. Skill in prioritisation, time management, stakeholder engagement and mentorship of young teams have been common skills we have seen Encores bring to each business.”

Leslie’s story

As told by Tina Randello: “One of our fabulous Encores from 2022, Leslie had been a Beauty Therapist pre-pandemic and had then been out of the workforce for several years prioritising caring for her family of five! She was looking for a career change and joined Adore Beauty in a Customer Experience role which she enjoyed greatly as it still utilised her professional beauty skills while fitting into her family life more easily than her salon work. 

She explained to me after being on The Encoreship program for a few weeks her husband asked why she was so happy in the evening. He wondered why Leslie had a big smile on her face each night after work when she was juggling more than she ever had. Leslie knew the reason immediately: she had rediscovered herself, not her role as a wife, mum, daughter or sister; but her as a person in her own right.  She loved the feeling of doing great work, helping others and receiving so much reward and recognition from her work – it motivated her and brought her much joy and fulfillment. 

In addition to the financial empowerment, it’s the non-financial aspects of working, the connections, satisfaction of achievement, being part of a community and helping others that is often not considered when deciding to return to work.”

Businesses have until the end of April to sign up to The Encoreship’s 2023 program. Visit their website, or reach out to Tina directly on LinkedIn, for more information.

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