The “Reencuentra” programme aims to raise society’s awareness of the difficulty these women face in re-entering the job market after years devoted to childcare.

The programme includes a temporary assignment at Santander as well as a series of training, coaching and mentoring actions to create value and increase these women’s employability.

One hundred women will take part in this first edition. Fifteen of them will start the programme this week and the rest will be selected between now and the summer, in a process that is still open and in which more than 3,000 applications have been received to date.

Madrid, 9 March 2020
Santander España launched the "Reencuentra" programme, which aims to help women who have given up their professional careers for family reasons return to the job market at companies in their fields, especially those who are having a hard time finding an opportunity. 

There is a clear correlation between the employment rate and motherhood. According to data from Spain’s National Institute of Statistics, the employment rate of women decreases as the number of children increases. Women with three or more offspring have an unemployment rate of up to 26 percentage points higher than those without children. It is the opposite in the case of men. Men’s unemployment rate drops as the number of children increases.

For this reason, the bank has developed a two-tier programme: one that offers temporary work experience at Santander, allowing participants to return to the job market, and the other, which consists of a series of actions that create value for these women and increase their employability. One hundred women will take part in this first edition. They will be selected from all of the candidates who apply (3,000 to date, although the process is still open). Fifteen of them, aged between 38 and 46, will start the programme this week, and the rest will be chosen in the summer. 

These women have been of out the job market for five to ten years. The aim is to enable them to re-enter the job market in companies in their fields; that is why the programme also targets small and medium-sized enterprises as possible employers of this group, given that SMEs account for 99% of the Spanish business fabric and 66% of jobs in Spain. The registration process for both the women and the companies that wish to participate in the programme is still open. You can register at

Rami Aboukhair, CEO of Santander Spain: "Everyone deserves at least one opportunity in their lifetime and, in many cases, a second one. This is what millions of women in our country need, women who, for various reasons, are forced to take a career break.” That is why, he explains “'Santander Reencuentra' was created, a programme that I feel very proud of because I am convinced that it will help us to raise society’s awareness regarding the reality faced by these women who are hoping to be given an opportunity. An opportunity they await and which they deserve. But companies don’t always listen to them, we don’t take the time to get to know them, we don’t let them tell us what they have to offer. A CV on paper stating the date of birth and gender still carries a lot of weight in certain sectors.” 

“I always ask myself the same question: 'What can we do for them?' We give them training, mentoring and internships so that they can reconnect with the job market. We have a lot of reasons to fight for them, to give them that second chance. But individual efforts have less of an impact than group efforts. Therefore, I invite other companies to join this “Santander Reencuentra” movement," says Rami Aboukhair, who states that at Santander Spain “we will continue to work as we have done up until now to give women visibility and provide them with the necessary tools to be in control of their own destiny.”

Testimonies of the protagonists

Motherhood has helped Isabel López, one of the protagonists of this first edition, become “a more organised and efficient person.” I believe I have many more skills than when I was 30 years old.” However, “many job offers are still looking for people under the age of 40. The experience we have at this age, both personal and professional, means we have a lot to contribute to companies.” Isabel feels that this programme will allow her "to be prepared when having to face a job interview."

Begoña Valderrama feels the same: “I sometimes thought that I couldn’t get a job because I wasn’t useful, because I didn’t have much to contribute. They make you feel as if you are no longer useful. I would say to women in a similar situation, 'don’t give up, life is long, your life can change in a second, you shouldn’t be sad, you shouldn’t get angry'.”

“You become a mother, you have a child, you see that your whole life is changing and you can’t get back into the hang of anything because the worst part is how isolated you feel,” says Clara Longares, another of the participants in this first edition of the “Reencuentra” programme. “It is important to feel valued and to be active again. There is still much to do. We have to continue to believe in ourselves, which is one of the greatest battles that women face. We have to continue believing that we can contribute much more than people think, that we give it our all", she adds.

Carmen Llorente is in the same situation: “there was a time when I wanted to be more devoted to my family, to form a household, to take a 'short' break. I didn’t know that this break was going to last as long as it did. When you don’t work, your world revolves around your children. I missed developing another facet of my life. There are many women in this situation, although this group is not visible, so we still have a long battle ahead of us." 

Planned actions

The actions planned under this programme include coaching, with certified coaches to help empower women, restore their confidence, help them adapt to a new environment and manage their work-life balance. The coaches are Santander Human Resources managers who will collaborate as volunteers and who will be supervised by the European School of Coaching.

In addition, women participating in this initiative will be provided with a training package that includes an office tools refresher course and an online MBA, “The Power MBA”, which consists of several modules: strategy, Lean Startup and entrepreneurship, personal development, digital marketing and strategy, finance and accounting, and leadership in organisations. 

Another of the actions is mentoring, with the aim of strengthening candidates’ professional contact network to help them re-enter the job market in their field, given that this is one of the main channels for finding a job because their network of contacts may have become smaller after several years in which they have been out of the loop. The mentors will be managers from Santander Bank Smart branches (the biggest and most modern branches), who are very well connected in their field and who will have the support of the Human Resources’ Talent team.

To help these women re-enter the job market, the bank will also have an outplacement agency, which will provide them with training and advice on how to look for a job: how to prepare a curriculum vitae, how to approach an interview, how to narrow the search, etc.

“Reencuentra” forms part of Santander’s “Generación 81” programme, which promotes the visibility of female role models, education, employment and entrepreneurship on an equal footing. The ultimate aim of the initiative being presented is to generate an awareness movement in society on the difficulty that these woman have in re-entering the labour market after dedicating several years to taking care of their children or other family members and to give them that first chance to reconnect with the world of work.