Bank gets busy giving women work: it's not quite business as usual at the Vaud Cantonal Bank as the largest bank in French-speaking Switzerland spearheads a pioneering scheme to draw more women back into the workforce. Swiss News goes to Lausanne to find out more.

Author:Mirza, Faryal
Position:BUSINESS
 
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Motherhood can be the kiss of death for a career. Everyone knows someone who "took time off" to raise children but ultimately found they could not return to work.

Sometimes, it's enough of a hurdle just being a woman. But a recruitment scheme at Vaud Cantonal Bank (BCV) specifies that hiring females is vital to the workforce.

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The course, which trains women as customer advisers in retail banking, is now in its third round and very popular. Since the course started in 2006, more than 600 women ages 35 to 50 have applied for the ten places available each year. At the end of the course, those who pass have a guaranteed job at the BCV.

But why is the bank recruiting women in the first place? Laure Guido from the bank's human resources department explains.

"The BCV was looking for good professionals and more women. We saw that we didn't have many women in manager positions," she says.

The bank decided that the many highly qualified women who had taken a career break for motherhood offered a promising pool of candidates.

"The idea was to find people with a good level of education and who could learn a new job quickly," Guido adds.

In return, the bank offers a comprehensive year-long course introducing participants to the basics of retail banking within the BCV. Trainees are on a wage during this time and are assured a job within the BCV network once they are certified advisers.

Enticing advert

It was while reading the Vaud daily newspaper 24 heures that Chantal Muller, a mother of three girls, came across the BCV advert.

Muller had already worked in banking in France but put her career on hold when her husband's job took the family to Poland. After five years, they moved to Lausanne in 2003.

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Muller was keen to return to a banking career but was surprised at how hard it was to find a suitable part-time job.

"I started looking for a job in a bank but kept on getting rejected. Trying to find a job when you have kids in Switzerland is difficult. Then, I came across the BCV advert, which offered training and part-time work," Muller says.

That was in 2006, the course's inaugural year, and she jumped at the chance to apply. She ended up making it to the final lucky ten.

Christian Donze, head of training at the BCV, explains that the course is far from a cakewalk with its mixture of theory and practice.

"At the start, the course is geared towards someone who knows little about banking." In a second phase, the...

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