In addition to where we do our job, work places should also be accessible, diverse and inclusive for talented people and different skill sets to thrive. Santander runs several initiatives to make that a reality. 

Every day, persons with disabilities come up against multiple obstacles that we could all help remove if we work together.  According to the World Bank, one billion people — 15% of the world’s population — have some form of disability, and the barriers to opportunity they face often hold them back more than their physical impairment. 

Stories of diversity and inclusion at Santander Group

Employment and education are two of the main hurdles for these people, whose talent can go to waste due to a lack of inclusion in the jobs market. According to Rui Xu Cheng, SCIB Financial Control for Santander España, “people with disabilities like me have to fight social stigma. The world isn’t built for those of us who have some kind of disability, and that needs to change”. To help trigger that transformation, Santander runs several diversity and inclusion initiatives in the countries where we operate

Young woman with down syndrome using internet banking

In 2021 alone, we helped 1,500 people with disabilities boost their job skills and learn new ones through our scholarships, mentoring, internships and jobs programmes. That’s how Santander contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education”; and 8, “Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all”. According to Joana Bernardo, who works in Santander Portugal’s Responsible Banking team, “people with disabilities have talents, skills and dreams, and want the same opportunities as everyone else”.

We work alongside non-profit organization Fundación Universia to promote the career development of persons with disabilities and bolster their job skills, as well as to stimulate inclusive and sustainable growth. In Fundación Universia’s 15-plus years, we’ve allocated over 15 million euros to accessibility, education and employment initiatives for persons with disabilities, contributing to SDG 17: “Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”.

Adapting our services for persons with disabilities 

In addition to our initiatives to unearth and harness the talent of persons with disabilities, we continue to build a more accessible and inclusive bank through new tools and features in online banking and at branches and ATMs (which have audio guides and Braille keypads for visually-impaired people in most of our geographies).

In Santander Argentina, we have innovative apps like “Háblalo” (Talk about it) to encourage communication with people who face difficulties when using banking services. 

We promote diversity and inclusion in our workforce

We run several initiatives to make our teams diverse and inclusive, like “Abre tus sentidos” (Open your senses), where we encourage our employees to experience the challenges that persons with disabilities face every day. Over 1,000 Corporate Centre employees have taken part since its inception in 2018.

We also created the “Red Enable” community to share ideas and promote listening as a way of breaking down the stereotypes and prejudices that hamper the inclusion of our employees with disabilities. We help them develop their careers and as people, and look to build a fairer organization where everyone can be themselves by identifying new needs and talking about how we can meet them. “We have to raise awareness, let people know we’re here and that we’re people, too. Regardless of your disability, the most important thing is not to hold back”, says Bianca Nordi, Multichannel Advisor at Santander Argentina. 

As recognition for our work in these areas, Euromoney named us the world’s Best Bank for Diversity and Inclusion 2020 and the bank ranks among the world’s 10 most diverse and inclusive companies according to the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index.

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