- Amazon is accessing a pool of talented female lawyers through a fellowship re-entry program. The Association of Corporate Counsel Foundation's Global Women in Law & Leadership event recognized the retail giant's legal department for being the first to adopt the Onramp Fellowship.
- The fellowship originally paired women lawyers who left the profession for any reason with law firms for a year. The fellowship has expanded to include six legal departments. Some women can become permanent hires.
- Amazon's General Counsel David Zapolsky told the foundation in an interview that the fellowship is a "great source of talent that is undervalued by the market because of the decisions of women to take time off."
Women who decide to leave the workforce to raise children, care for family members, recuperate from illnesses or go out on their own often have trouble re-entering the workforce. Sometimes the time they lose translates into a loss in economic and professional status. A fellowship program like this for women lawyers allows them to get back into and updated on their profession.
In this case, the fellowship isn't binding or contractual; therefore, the women are free to pursue other options and the employers aren't required to retain fellows who aren't a good fit.
Women are reportedly leaving the workforce more rapidly than men. This "leaky talent pipeline" threatens employers' ability to hire and retain people with high-quality skills, particularly women who have left the workforce. The financial services sector recognized the lost talent potential when mothers were ignored and decided to engineer programs to bring them back in. More opportunities like these for women could patch up the pipeline for employers in most industries and help create future leaders.