Our Social Mobility Strategy focuses on advocating for and improving outcomes for our people, customers, and communities.

Our membership, and being a Founder Partner, of Progress Together is a key enabler of our Social Mobility strategy. Launched as part of a government commissioned taskforce, it is the first of its kind in the Financial Services Sector focusing on progression, retention, and socio-economic diversity.  Through this  membership, we demonstrate our commitment to leading and collaborating with others, using our influence to improve Social Mobility across the UK and within Financial Services. 

What is social mobility?

Put simply, social mobility is about ensuring a person's background doesn't determine their future. It's about the link between a person's education, occupation or income and the education, occupation or income of their parents or carers. Within the UK, upward social mobility remains limited, with someone's background often continuing to act as a determining factor in their life outcomes. If we want to help people within our communities to build the confidence and skills they need to improve their career prospects, inclusion and social mobility need to be at the heart of what drives these conversations and decisions.  It also supports us to have a thriving workplace, building a talent pipeline for the future.

We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their potential and understand the possibilities the world has to offer them.

Additionally early experiences and access to opportunities during school years and further education is key to entry and progression in the workplace - we know we can, and should, do more. We already offer different entry routes to our workplace, providing apprenticeships, and this year, we removed the 2:1 classification for our graduate scheme. 

We’re proud to be a founding member of Progress Together, a membership body focusing on progression, retention, and socio-economic diversity in the financial services sector. In the coming years we’ll continue our advocacy for a fairer society where anyone is able to succeed, no matter their background. As part of our membership, we have supported the Progress Together annual report. This study is the largest of its kind internationally, with almost 150,000 employees from UK financial services. It investigates the relationship between socio-economic background and progression to the most senior roles in the sector. You can read the report here.

At the end of 2022 we launched the Santander Scholars Programme. A flagship initiative providing £1m per annum to 100 scholars at University who identify as one of the underrepresented groups as defined by the Office for Students (Access and participation glossary - Office for Students). This programme will provide each scholar with an annual grant of £10,000 for each year of their studies (maximum 3 years) as well as opportunities to grow their networks, a dedicated mentor and access to work placements and other opportunities to develop their employability skills.

Going forward, we will be offering virtual insight days as part of our work experience offering. We will also be providing a toolkit for business areas to run more locally run work experience leaning on the hybrid approach. The sessions will be more activity based allowing young people to build their own connections as part of the session developing their key skills.

This programme is vital in supporting and upskilling the community with financial education. 

Our people networks provide a space to celebrate diversity, foster belonging and improve engagement.  Today, with over 10,000 members and allies – each with an Executive Committee Member and Board Non-Executive Director sponsor – they are  integral for embedding Everyday Inclusion at Santander.  They drive positive change by raising awareness, supporting development, suggesting improvements to our processes, and providing a place for all our people to connect.

Social Mobility Network was created in 2015 and seeks to create a level playing field to enable all our people and those in the communities to achieve their full potential regardless of their background or social class. The chairs of the network and their ExCo sponsor are instrumental in designing and delivering our Social Mobility strategy. 

Our people and our communities are integral to what we do and stand for as a business. A key deliverable of our Social Mobility strategy, the Mobilise development programme is the first of its kind and gives us the opportunity to show the impact we can have by early intervention in schools – particularly those in more disadvantaged areas. The uniqueness of the programme allows us to not only develop our people but students too and we follow them for over 3 years to see the impact. By us having access to the schools and students where we feel we can make a real difference, we can give them access and visibility to more of what the world has to offer – be it in Santander or elsewhere.

Targeting Year 9 students who are just about to hit the pinnacle point of choosing their GCSEs, thinking about next steps and their career dreams, the programme is a precursor to all the work we do and offer students at Apprentice and Graduate level.

We'll start off with schools identified as having higher percentage of students from lower social mobility backgrounds in Milton Keynes, with a view to expand our reach to schools in areas such as Glasgow and Bradford.

What's involved:

  • Leadership and mentoring course for Santander Mentors: virtual development sessions that will help mentoring skills with a purpose and gain confidence in re-packaging skills to inspire young people.
  • Mentor secondary school students for at least six weeks: putting new skills into practice in a structured mentoring programme for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
  • Wider research project: We'll be researching how this programme positively impacts the community as part of Santander's social mobility agenda over three years. 

We’re proud to have again been included in Social Mobility Index, ranking in the top 75. This is the fourth year in a row we have appeared in the index, which is a key benchmark for our work to be leaders for Social Mobility within the Financial Services sector. We received the Lord Mayor’s Award for Advancing Socio-economic Diversity in Business for our commitment to retaining exceptional colleagues, and developing internal talent. We also received a silver award for Progression Programme of the Year at the SoMo Awards for our Career Mobility Hub. The hub offers our colleagues a go-to place for professional development, including our internal job board, CV/interview preparation, and access to our one-to-one Career Coaching Service.

As part of our aim to become the best bank for Social Mobility, we are increasing our understanding of the people who make up our organisation. Last year saw us ask a question on our Employee Survey relating to socio-economic background, creating more insight than ever before on differences in experience/outcome based on socio-economic background. 2022 saw us build on this understanding by introducing questions relating to socio-economic background to Workday. This will help us create a baseline for us to track our progress as we aim to increase social mobility through our organisation.

Historically we know financial services has been an area that's recruited a certain demographic of people, but we've broken the mould as an organisation.

We are improving our understanding of our people and who make up our organisation through better data disclosure as we aim to best represent the customers and communities we serve. Our data shows that we've got a high proportion of people who come from a working-class background in comparison to most of the financial services sector. Our ambition is to have 35% of our senior leaders to come from a lower social economic background by 2030, we are on track to achieve this target with 29% of senior leader disclosing in 2022 that they were from a lower social economic background (based on the Social Mobility Commision measurements).

For us at Santander, it's about potential, and there's lots of it out there. Our social mobility index submission already indicates we have a strong link between our outreach work and recruitment pipeline, relative to others. It's been recommended that we look at the data and do the research to show that the support we're providing is working. 

Top 75 Employer