At Santander we have a wide array of initiatives in place to advocate gender equality in all the countries where we operate. In celebration of this, today the UK has been named in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women, the most highly profiled and well-established listing of UK employers that make gender equality part of their business strategy at all levels.
The publication recognises organisations who are committed to working towards gender equality. The UK has also been commended for being in the top ten percent of organisations that has featured regularly for the ten years that the Top 50 Employers list has been available. From work-life balance to talent selection and identification, professional development and cutting-edge research, this dedicated work has supported the UK in achieving this accolade.
The assessment focuses on transparency, the causes behind gaps, what companies are doing to identify and address these structural issues and the impact of their actions. The evaluation includes, but is not limited to: roles of senior leaders; actions to increase representation of women in senior positions and ensure gender balance at all levels; recruitment; progression; intersectionality; supporting parents and carers; bullying and harassment; pay processes; and external engagement to promote gender equality outside their organisation.
It is four years since Santander UK signed the UK government “Women in Finance Charter” which aims to see gender balance at all levels across UK financial services firms. It was a bold commitment set - to achieve a target of 50% (+/-10%) women in senior roles by the end 2021 and one of a few financial service organisations to set a gender parity target. To date significant progress has been made, increasing women in the top senior leadership positions by 11.4% and exceeding the Santander Group target set of 30%. Alongside this, the UK has ensured that they have a member of their Executive Committee who is responsible and accountable for gender inclusion – Tim Hinton, Head, Corporate and Commercial Bank.
Promoting Gender Inclusion
True gender equality means equality of opportunity and expectation, alongside representation. The UK has developed specific programmes and taken positive steps to encourage gender inclusion so that women can achieve their full potential at work. In addition to assessing and addressing any barriers faced by women in recruitment processes, and the involvement of nearly 400 women in gender-specific talent programmes, it has been important to create a truly inclusive workplace where both women and men can thrive.
In 2018, they contributed to cutting-edge research in gender equality working in partnership with Business in the Community: ‘Equal Lives’ uncovered the societal and organisational biases that exist among men and women with caring responsibilities and how these can impact women’s career progression. This research found that women are 8x more likely than men to take the primary role in childcare, and 1.5x more likely to take the primary role in caring for adults. As a result of the research, the UK publishes their family friendly policies externally, being one of a small group of organisations who are transparent, which is imperative to promoting an inclusive culture; they doubled their paternity leave which now benchmarks in the top 10% of UK organisations and offer extended Shared Parental Leave to include grandparents, fertility treatment, surrogacy, adoption, and fostering. Their ‘Becoming A Parent’ toolkit, Grandparent leave policy and ‘Parents & Carers’ employee resource group continues to ensure the policy frameworks and cultural discourse of flexible working and work/life balance are embedded for all colleagues. The work of the UK and the network resulting in becoming a finalist in the ‘Best Practise’ Awards for Working Families.
In 2017, they launched a gender identity and expression policy for those employees going through transgender and gender dysphoria, so that colleagues could be made aware of the procedure and how to support colleagues transitioning.
Women in Business employee network
Colleagues in the UK set up a Women in Business network back in 2012 and today it has over 3000 members. They work tirelessly to provide a safe community for colleagues to speak up and share their experiences, providing feedback on our processes and practices to make changes that will improve the working lives of colleagues. They host events and activities to support colleagues, their 2019 International Women’s Day activity featuring on the IWD website. Through delivery of #Iamremarkable and LeanIn workshop sessions they are helping colleagues to shape the careers they want.
Supporting Customers and Communities
The UK recognises their role as a responsible bank to support customers and communities to prosper. They continue to support female entrepreneurs, becoming a signatory for the UK Investing in Women Code last year, and supporting Women Business owners on their Breakthrough Mentoring programme which has been running for a number of years. Following external research commissioned, they found that three-quarters of young people in the UK were unable to name one female business owner. To address this, they launched a new guide earlier this year on becoming an entrepreneur, including videos and tips from a range of female business owners. Through their 86 Santander University Partnerships across the UK, over 1200 female students’ future careers were supported through programmes and supported 20 women on a 16-week coding bootcamp to build skills and confidence.
At Santander, we believe that diversity should be a fundamental pillar within any organisation, and it is therefore a key aspect of our corporate culture. You can find out more on our Group progress to our Diversity and Inclusion ambitions here.