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Goldman Sachs recruits workers who left labor force during pandemic

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Lori Taylor benefited firsthand from the opportunity to return to a career in banking after taking six years off from work to raise two children. Currently a managing director in Goldman Sachs' credit risk management division, Taylor was among the lucky minority of folks who take lengthy breaks and yet successfully relaunch their careers.

"It can be intimidating to explain why you were out and it can be hard to network your way back in," Taylor told CBS MoneyWatch. 

Taylor retooled her skills through what Goldman Sachs calls a "returnship" for individuals like herself. Many more women in particular are searching for similar pathways back to work after the pandemic forced them to the sidelines.

Millions of working parents left the workforce during the pandemic to supervise their young children when day care centers and schools across the country closed. Other professionals were laid off as companies faced uncertaIn futures amid a once-in-a-lifetime global health crisis. Goldman, for one, wants to bring them — and their experience — to its offices across the U.S.

Enrollment in the investment bank's returnship program, slated to commence in January, begins this week. The program was established 14 years ago but recently has been reimagined to include workers who were either laid off or voluntarily left the workforce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

About 1.8 million women and 1.7 million men exited the labor force during the pandemic, according to the National Women's Law Center June 2021 Report. Goldman will select roughly 50 applicants who are either returnees who took more than a two-year break from work or professionals who were displaced during the pandemic as part of its "COVID-19 Career Relaunch Initiative." Strong performers will be offered full-time positions in the bank's consumer wealth management, engineering, operations, legal and other departments. 

Historically, about 90% of returnship participants at Goldman have been women, a trend that's expected to continue given the pandemic's outsized impact on female workers. 

"COVD has had a disproportionate impact on women and Goldman Sachs knows this has real consequences. One major consequence is that employers have a hard time remaining competitive," said Megan Hogan, Goldman's chief diversity officer.

When women take career breaks to care for children or elderly family members, the economy at large suffers, Hogan said. "There are direct consequences on our economy, on how people are able to generate wealth, and there is this brain drain in industries like ours if we don't have women in the workplace," she explained.

Applicants will be placed in Goldman offices across New York City; Albany, New York; Jersey City, New Jersey; Salt Lake City; Dallas; Wilmington, Delaware; Miami; West Palm Beach, Florida, and Chicago.

Carol Fishman Cohen, the founder of iRelaunch, a career re-entry company that provides resources and training for people returning to work after hiatuses, noted there is lot of untapped talent in pools of workers who have taken career breaks not because of their performance on the job but because of external factors. 

"The return-to-work talent pool is a hidden pool because people don't lose their ability to be high performers simply because they take a career break," she said. 

Amazon, Wells Fargo, TD Bank, Mastercard, IBM, Raytheon Technologies and Oracle have all launched similar career re-entry programs. 

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