Nationwide supports biggest ever survey on gender equality

Initiative of unprecedented scale will survey and act on women’s workplace experiences

19 November 2013

Nationwide Building Society is putting its name and weight behind an ambitious survey aiming to better understand how and why women are undervalued at work in the hope of educating businesses and levelling the playing field.

Despite Nationwide being widely recognised as a diverse and inclusive employer, the Society is pushing for as many women as possible from its 15,000-strong workforce to take part in the ground-breaking study, called Project 28-40, which has just launched by Opportunity Now - the gender equality campaign from Business in the Community (BITC).

Nationwide, which sits on the board of Opportunity Now through its Chief Operating Officer and executive sponsor for gender diversity Tony Prestedge, is fully supportive of the project’s aim of addressing longstanding issues such as barriers to progression women face at work and the gender pay gap – topics which continue to be relevant despite an abundance of talented, ambitious women. It is believed to be the biggest poll of its type ever conducted, with a target of 100,000 women to be surveyed across the UK and Republic of Ireland by mid December. It will mainly, although not exclusively, gauge the views of women aged between 28 and 40 years old – determined as the period where the gap between female and male career progression widens.

Nationwide, which as the world’s largest building society has a relationship with one-in-four UK households, has been recognised as a leader for diversity by being respectively named in both the top ten lists of private sector employers for gender and ethnicity by Opportunity Now and Race for Opportunity – Business in the Community’s race diversity campaign. Nationwide was also named in The Times’ Top 50 employers for women list in April. A total of 65 per cent of Nationwide employees are women, with 63 per cent of managers also female – double the financial services average.

Nationwide’s Tony Prestedge said: “It is vital that businesses pull together to better address the inequality that still exists between women and men in the workplace – this is a shared responsibility. As a diversity champion and an organisation that prides itself on being inclusive, we are putting our weight behind this issue. This is why we are committed to capturing the views of as many women as possible, to help make this survey a resounding success.”

Helena Morrissey CBE, Chair of Opportunity Now, said: “28-40 is a critical age for career development where at the moment women fail to be promoted at the same rate as men - a problem both for women and companies. This survey, the largest ever undertaken globally, will help us all really understand the reasons behind the current imbalance. We’re asking women to share their experiences candidly and to provide their own perspectives about harder-to-measure aspects such as culture and attitudes, so better initiatives can be developed for everyone’s benefit.”

The survey will include women who have left the workplace, whether they are planning to return or not, as well as those who are still working. It will enable women to describe what is important to them and explores cultural aspects of their experience, including societal attitudes, as well as practical issues such as maternity leave, where appropriate. Project 28-40 will also target other groups, including older and younger women and men, as this will help to identify specific issues affecting women’s careers.

The scale of the survey, hosted by PwC and backed by more than 75 companies, will enable significant conclusions to be drawn on the female working population and will better diagnose why women are not being promoted at the same rate as men during this critical phase for career development. Data will be used as part of a longer term project to inform and educate companies in levelling the playing field at work by acknowledging then addressing historic disparities relating to women.

The survey is available at and will run until Sunday 15th December. In the first quarter of 2014, Opportunity Now will hold focus groups to explore themes that emerge from the research. The initial findings of the report will be launched during Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Week (31 March – 4 April 2014).

Notes to editors:

About Opportunity Now: Opportunity Now work to increase women’s success at work, because it benefits business and society. It works with its membership of employers, from the private, public and education sectors to offer tailored, practical and pragmatic advice on workplace issues. Opportunity Now is the women at work campaign from Business in the Community, a charity which stands for responsible business. Opportunity Now’s Excellence in Practice Awards recognise private and public sector organisations that have put gender at the core of their business agendas and are committed to creating inclusive workplaces for women at all levels. The CIPD is the Awards Partner for the Directing Diverse Talent Award, Cranfield School of Management partners with Opportunity Now to recognise achievement on executive women and women on boards in FTSE listed companies, The Government Equalities Office partner on the Transparency Award and this year for the first time UN Women UK are partnering on the Global Award.


About Business in the Community: Business in the Community stands for responsible business. With a membership of over 850 companies, engagement in 10,700 organisations internationally and an employee reach of 14.7 million, Business in the Community is raising the benchmark for responsible business practice. We offer our members practical support to help them transform their businesses and integrate responsible practices into their operations. And we ask our members to work in partnership with us to help transform communities and tackle serious social issues where business can make a real difference. Business in the Community is one of the Prince’s Charities, a group of not-for-profit organisations of which The Prince of Wales is President.


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