More than diverse tech talent: 3 ways sees value in Returners Returners

“Tech Returners has been a step change in how we access gender diverse talent.”

Hearing these words from Austin Sheppard, CTO, VP of Engineering at, one of the world’s largest online travel agencies is undeniably, music to our ears. After all, our organisation was started to create more accessible routes for women and underrepresented groups to return to the tech career they love. However, we’ve seen Returners bring so much more value to businesses than just diversity, and yet this value often remains a well kept secret, just for those in the know.

Our journey with hiring partner started with a drive for increased diversity, but brought us to a place where we’ve achieved that, and so much more. Together, we can now reveal and redefine the layers of expertise and strength that Returners actually bring to the table.


1. Returners + human skills

“Returners have brought an amazing wealth of real, life skills to Their communication, presentation, client communications, leadership skills have distinguished the Returners. These are skills you don’t learn in a classroom and often, not even on the job.”

Austin Sheppard, CTO, VP of Engineering at

We feel it’s powerful that businesses like recognise the power of Returners’ unique life and career experience through the skills and behaviours they display – but we’re not surprised. Throughout our Tech Returners programme, our Career and Mindset team works with Returners to reframe their career break and extract the juicy value that undeniably lies amongst their experiences, but which is often hidden by self-doubt. 

This value is commonly known as ‘soft skills,’ but we prefer to call them ‘human skills.’ These ‘human skills’ set apart mid-level software engineers who have been in role for years, from Returners who took time out and (possibly unintentionally) developed communications skills, leadership, mediation and in the same breath, demonstrated resilience and determination.

For instance, take Huma, who took time away from commercial coding to raise three children and partner up with her husband to start an award-winning business.

Or Laura who showed incredible entrepreneurial spirit by setting up her own successful artisan bakery.

Then there’s Saira, a refugee who escaped adversity, moved country, raised her son alone and got back on her feet despite roadblocks and barriers coming up time and time again. 

All three women are thriving at as software engineers.

“They’ve raised the bar for us. They’ve taught our engineering team how to go beyond tech.”

Austin Sheppard, CTO, VP of Engineering at


2. Returners + experience and commitment

“Our Tech Returners have been able to add value to their team far quicker than many new starters. Whether that’s because of the variety of different jobs they have done in the interim that has given them a little bit more work confidence and work experience or whether there’s a combination of that and the drive to get back in, make up for lost time, make their mark. That’s one thing that surprised me.”

Will Faulkner, Director of Engineering at

Going it alone, Returners often face barriers and stigma on their journey back to tech. At Tech Returners, we often meet people at the point where they’re just about to give up and we’re able to offer them a final career lifeline. This naturally creates a sense of commitment amongst Returners. If you are a business looking for employees that personally care, are highly engaged and want to make their mark on an organisation, Returners are the way to go. 

Of the Returners across all our programmes, 89% are still at the same employer 12 months later, with the majority staying for many years. Taking part in the Tech Returners programme and engaging with a progressive business that specifically sought out their type of experience, builds a connection stronger than any Recruiter or CV Search could ever produce. 

“People who are choosing to Return to Tech really want it. So that’s a great foot to start from – people who really want to work with us.”

Austin Sheppard, CTO, VP of Engineering at


3. Returners + Diversity

“80% of those joining Booking through Tech Returners identify as women. It has definitely contributed to an increase in gender diversity in but also the tech industry in general.”

Austin Sheppard, CTO, VP of Engineering at

The well known lack of diversity in tech leads to a potentially dangerous bias in the products we build, the services we use, and the intelligence we rely on, so it would be foolish to remain passive on this issue. Especially when we’ve seen businesses come to us, time and time again because of the simple fact that Returners represent diverse tech talent. We never stop talking about how Returners are a diverse pool of talent to invest in and a powerful way businesses can work on diversity issues. But what are the reasons for this?

For one, career breaks tend to be taken more often by women due to childcare responsibilities. Investing in these returners, as a business, naturally increases your chances of hiring women.

However, there are many more angles to Diversity than gender. 69% of our cohorts are people of colour – another crucial aspect of diversity we must improve across the industry. What’s more, one of the top three reasons why Returners take a career break is moving to another country. By investing in Returners, you’re bringing diverse backgrounds and rich life experiences directly into your tech team.

“My mental model before engaging with Tech Returners was women leaving the workplace for childcare. The biggest surprise to me was just how diverse and unique each Returner was.”

Austin Sheppard, CTO, VP of Engineering at


What may start as an important exercise in increasing diversity, could end up in a significant culture shift in your organisation, just like at Allow Returners to surprise you. If you’re keen to explore opportunities around hiring Returners and integrating unique, resilient and committed team members into your tech teams, get in touch with our team today.

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We’d love to hear from you!

Feeling inspired? If you'd like to start your return to tech, check out our Programmes page. If you're a business looking to hire amazing Returners, check out the Businesses page. Or if you've got a question for the team, don't hesitate to get in touch!

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