Last update: 31/01/2023
Workplaces should be accessible, diverse and inclusive so talented people and different skill sets can thrive. Santander runs several initiatives to make that a reality in the countries where we operate.
Every day, people 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. According to the United Nations, 80% of those one billion people live in developing countries.
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. To help turn things around, Santander runs several diversity and inclusion initiatives in the countries where we operate.
They help people with disabilities boost their job skills and learn new ones through international scholarships, mentoring, internships and jobs programmes. That’s how Santander pledges to contribute 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”.
We work alongside Fundación Universia, a non-profit organization that Santander promotes, to boost the career development and job skills of people with disabilities, 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 people with disabilities, contributing to SDG 17: “Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”.
We promote diversity and inclusion in our workforce
Santander strives to build diverse and inclusive teams. We have almost 4,000 employees with disabilities. However, that’s just the start of a future where opportunity for people with disabilities knows no bounds.
That's why we’re running these initiatives to attract a diverse range of talented people and promote the inclusion of everyone:
Part of the Group Technology & Operations division’s BeTech! with Santander recruitment drive, it took home a prize in the Team category at the 2022 Santander Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Awards for promoting job skills for people with disabilities in tech roles. Together with the Women in Tech initiative — which seeks to bridge the gender gap in technology —, it has proved how everyone’s help can accelerate progress, with the employability of people with disabilities having tripled in the past two years.
A Santander España programme that came second in the Initiatives category at the 2022 Santander Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Awards. So far, it has helped more than 30 employees with disabilities join the Private Banking division’s branch network in Spain.
A Santander Argentina initiative to hire more people with disabilities, adapt call centre work stations for visually-impaired employees and implement other enhancements. Santander Argentina employee Miriam Gladys Calvo won the Golden Individual prize at the 2022 Santander Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Awards for her tireless work on the initiative.
We also strive to boost awareness among our employees through initiatives like “Abre tus sentidos” (Open your senses), where we encourage our Group employees at the Corporate Centre in Boadilla del Monte (Madrid) to experience the challenges that people with disabilities face every day. Over 1,000 Santander Group City employees have taken part since its inception in 2018.
The “Red Enable” community at the Corporate Centre continues to grow. In its first year, it has attracted 300 members who share ideas and promote listening as a way of breaking down the stereotypes and prejudices that hamper inclusion. We help them develop their careers and as people, and look to build a fairer organization by identifying new needs and talking about how we can meet them. We also have the Santander México people with disabilities network (over 100 members) and Thrive at Santander US (close to 300 members).
Our work, initiatives and programmes in these areas have won several awards and placed us as the world’s highest ranked bank in the 2023 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index.
Adapting our services for people with disabilities
In addition to our initiatives to unearth and harness the talent of people 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 markets). Santander Uruguay’s work to open its first three accessible branches in 2021, run awareness campaigns and adapt its ATMs for visually-impaired people won a prize in the Team category at the 2022 Santander Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Awards.
Technology is a key ally. In Santander Argentina, we have innovative apps like “Háblalo” (Talk about it) to encourage communication with people who face difficulties when using banking services. Achieving a more diverse and inclusive future sooner is only possible if we work together to understand and promote that being different is just another reason to be equal both in the workplace and our private lives.