Santander wants to elevate women’s leadership and drive the transition towards true equality in management. The two training programmes we offer, Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics and Santander Scholarships Women | Emerging Leaders-LSE, help our efforts.

Grupo Santander is strengthening its commitment to gender equality through initiatives that empower and elevate talented women at all career levels through leadership, negotiation and communications training. 

International organizations and rankings have recognized our efforts. Bloomberg's 2021 GenderEquality Index ranks us in the world’s top 10 companies for gender equality. 

Women represent 40% of our board of directors, which is much higher than at large listed companies in Europe, much less in Spain. We remain strongly committed to having women in 30% of senior management roles by 2025.

Women in 30%

of senior management roles for 2025

Women in 30%

of senior management roles for 2025

But our journey towards equality is not new. We have been training women leaders for over ten years through Santander Universities. We also have two programmes — W50 Leadership and Emerging Leaders-LSE — with the London School of Economics and Political Science, one of the world’s most prestigious international universities at the forefront of innovation and leadership.

Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership – LSE (2021)

Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics: How it began

In 2010, there were much fewer women on boards of directors than now. Santander Universities, which then focused on training and employment for university students, expanded its operations and committed resources to tackling that imbalance. Thus, Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics was born. It gave 50 women from around the world, with very similar career backgrounds and goals the opportunity to take part in a unique and innovative leadership programme with the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA). 

The success of the programme, which students described as an amazing experience, cemented its place on Santander Universities' list of scholarships. In 2014-2015, it got a boost like none other, thanks to what former students said about its impact on on their careers. By 2017, the programme had seen further developments and, at Santander Universities, we found that we could train women not only for board roles but also for senior management. 

Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics: Now

The 11th Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics is accepting applications until 10 May. More than 700 women from all over the world have graduated from the programme. 

Ana de la Fuente, a former student and current corporate head of Digital Marketing and Communication at Gesvalt, says that the course helped her "reflect on the personal strengths, interests and skills that enable you to succeed and contribute to your company's success. I also shared knowledge and experience with my fellow students regarding leadership, strategy cybersecurity, entrepreneurship and innovation".

Former student Gemma Sisó, head of Marketing and Quality and board member at Aramark, believes it was "a great experience where I learned to be more self-aware, identify key points to build and focus on developing what I need to achieve my goals. I also realized the importance of setting specific objectives, communicating them strategically and networking better." 

To De la Fuente, Sisó and other graduates, the programme represented both a unique experience and a standard of excellence. On their LinkedIn profiles, they naturally highlight the training they received. Acceptance in a highly competitive admissions process is a tremendous feat and an honour that proves they can be tomorrow's leaders.

W50 Alumni

But for most graduates from the Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics, something greater than the programme’s training and recognition is the bond of sisterhood each one forges with the other 49 students. "On the first day of the programme, we were just students; now we’re friends, mentors and a source of inspiration to take on new challenges", said former student Montse Puig, corporate director at Tangelo Games.

Many graduates agree networking is the greatest advantage of Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics and makes it stand out from other leadership courses. It is the only scholarship for students with similar backgrounds who are on the rise in their careers, encouraging close friendships as well as professional guidance and excellence through a mutual support network.

Santander Scholarships Women | Emerging Leaders-LSE

The covid-19 pandemic caused our courses to go digital. Far from posing a barrier, it actually led to leadership training for new managers under the name “Santander Scholarships Women | Emerging Leaders-LSE”. Drawing inspiration from the Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics, the scholarships’ purpose is to teach negotiation and communication skills to women who are five to twelve years in to their career and aspire to take on leadership roles.

Virginia Pérez, an architect at 2gv Arquitectura who completed the course in its first year, says that it "is a highly appealing experience, with a huge focus on reflection, self-awareness and on unleashing the leader within. It marked the start of a very challenging journey of personal growth that had a major impact on my life and career. It is also first-class training that has given me tools to learn how to manage people around me and [myself]. Those tools show that excellent leadership can transform an organization." 

Something Pérez also accentuates about her relationship with her fellow students is that "networking was one of the things that impacted the most on my growth. We built a community of women who, despite coming from very different industries, have leadership in common. It’s a community where communication flows and you have the chance to broaden your career." 

The first-year success of the course, in which 125 women graduated, is a sign of its long future. In fact, a second Santander Scholarships Women | Emerging Leaders-LSE has already opened and is accepting applications until 16 June.

Equitable leadership: a key to better results

According to "Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey", a study by Ernst & Young (EY) and Peterson Institute, having women in leadership roles can help raise a company's earnings by up to 6%. According to "Women in Business and Management: The business case for change", a 2019 report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), companies that had a significant number of women managers increased productivity by more than 50% and developed substantially more creative and innovative strategies. 

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