Santander is committed to the promotion of the social and labour market inclusion of people with disabilities. The Fundacion Universia helps us do this by organising activities for our employees, such as "Open Your Heart and Mind", a training and awareness-raising initiative to help understand the reality of living with a disability. Over 1,000 of the people at our corporate centre have taken part in the programme since 2018.
Public sector organisations, companies and institutions are introducing measures to raise awareness of the importance of social and labour market inclusion of people with disabilities. At Santander, we have the Fundacion Universia to organise, among other things, awareness-raising sessions and teamwork, where employees and university students on work placements at our bank experience and reflect at first hand on the reality of living with a disability.
We set up these sessions with the aim of showing the value of having differences within teams, particularly in relation to the inclusion of disabled people. For these initiatives, we can also rely on the participation of disability foundations and associations, including the Emilio Sánchez Vicario Foundation with its "blind tennis" activity; Asociacion Hydra with rescue and guide dogs; CILSEM (the Association for the Coordination of Sign-Language Interpreters and Guides in Madrid), with a workshop on Spanish sign language; Fundacion Deporte y Desafio with walking-stick slalom, volleyball and adapted hiking; Asociacion Achalay with "A tu ritmo" (at your own rhythm), a team game using percussion; and Fundacion Manantial with an activity relating to the reality of mental health.
Young and inclusive talent for diversity
For the second year running, more than 170 recipients of our scholarships and bursaries took part in one of the "Open Your Heart and Mind" sessions organised in collaboration with the Human Resources, Culture, Engagement and Employee Experience area of the bank.
The young adults' involvement has shown that this is a generation that is innately inclusive and they highlighted that what appealed to them most was “learning about the daily lives of people with disabilities and the various issues they have to tackle in them. Raising awareness of their problems, experiences, dreams, etc.”
"Open Your Heart and Mind" is an initiative linked to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 11: Sustainable cities and communities, to research, report on and raise awareness on the accessibility and inclusion measures at higher education institutions, considering the needs of people with disabilities. This will drive inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
Through the Fundacion Universia, Santander supports the inclusion of people with talent and disabilities through higher education and professional development in a society that respects diversity.