Last week Creative Equals, an organisation championing diversity, announced the launch of its new government-backed programme to help women in the creative industries return to work. We're delighted to be among the 30 brand and agency partners who have already signed up. Here, our head of HR, Lisa Berardi, talks about the programme and its importance.

We're so excited to be partnering with Creative Equals in this pioneering programme. Encouraging the scores of talented women who have taken some time out back into the creative industry is vital to building fair, balanced and diverse workplaces.

We Are Social has always been vocal about equal representation of women in our organisation, at all levels of seniority and across all disciplines. So when Creative Equals asked us to partner with them in The Returners programme, we didn't hesitate. The under-representation of women in senior positions in advertising is shocking. It's something we feel passionate about, and we want to do our part to help advertising become a realistic career option for experienced, returning women.

As Creative Equals founder Ali Hanan told Campaign "Just when creatives are stepping up to leadership roles, parenthood or caring duties come along. With out-of-date portfolios, a career gap and a biased recruitment sector, the barriers to re-entry are huge. The most forward-thinking brands and agencies in the UK are our founding partners, helping us build a sustainable programme, which we aim to grow year on year."

So throughout 2019, we - along with the other partners involved - will be hosting a four-week placement, supported by a dedicated coach, to help upskill participants across a range of specialisms including: copywriters, user experience specialists, art directors, producers, strategists, data analysts, designers and concept creatives.

Advertising needs to be more inclusive and more diverse. It makes good businesses sense. It will lead to better, more innovative, creative work that is reflective of the audiences we want to reach. We'd like 2019 to be the year that the advertising industry becomes a more welcoming place for returning women.

If you, or someone you know, would like to get involved in The Returners programme, then read the full piece in Campaign Magazine for details.