Bold stance against sexism helps Nationwide clinch sponsorship of leading gender equality awards

9 September 2013

Nationwide Building Society's dedication to diversity, including its withdrawal of Facebook advertising in response to violent and sexist content, has seen the mutual selected to sponsor the Awards for Excellence from Opportunity Now – the UK's leading women at work campaign from Business in the Community (BITC).

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.

Britain's biggest building society fought off strong competition to land the three-year sponsorship, with charity BITC making their decision on account of Nationwide's commitment to gender equality and its reputation for responsible business.

The news builds on Nationwide's success last year in being awarded Gold status and a top ten place in both the Opportunity Now and Race for Opportunity (BITC's race campaign) benchmarks. The Society's work within the community was further recognised by BITC after it was ranked Platinum in the charity's annual benchmark of responsible business management - the Corporate Responsibility Index.

Judges determined that Nationwide's consistent demonstration of strong leadership in the campaign for gender equality marked it out from the pack, evidenced through its active role in the Opportunity Now Advisory Board, as well as recent events such as withdrawing advertising from Facebook. Nationwide, which has a relationship with one-in-four UK households, withdrew advertising on the site back in May after it emerged its adverts were appearing on Facebook pages featuring violence against women and sexist content. The Society has suspended advertising on the site until the social network implements plans to clamp down on inappropriate content.

Opportunity Now Acting Director Kathryn Nawrockyi said: "We are proud to be working in partnership with Nationwide on the Opportunity Now Awards for Excellence. Its leadership as a responsible business is clear – not only was Nationwide recognised as a Times Top 50 Employer for Women this year, but the employer took a powerful stance when it withdrew its advertising from Facebook in response to a proliferation of gender violent and misogynist content on the site.

I am also pleased to be continuing our partnerships with CIPD, Cranfield School of Management and Government Equalities Office, and to be launching a new partnership with UN Women UK on our Global Award".

Tony Prestedge, Nationwide's Chief Operating Officer and Executive Sponsor for Gender Diversity, said: "Being involved with Opportunity Now is a fantastic coup as it not only enables us to showcase best practice to the industry, but provides the corporate backing that this issue desperately needs for change to be implemented.

"Having a diverse workforce is incredibly important – we don't want to be pale, male and stale. But it cannot be about just ticking boxes. Hiring more women must be about appointing those who are the best candidates for the job, while the right candidates need to be identified for promotion opportunities. And there's no shortage of them – the vast majority of our workforce are actually women."

As a mutual, with a relationship with more than one in four UK households and in excess of 17,000 employees, Nationwide is one of the UK's most powerful financial services brands. The Society distinguishes itself by clear points of difference, particularly the benefits of mutuality to its members, brand reputation and acknowledged leadership in customer service satisfaction.

Around 67 per cent of Nationwide's workforce is female, with 63 per cent of managers being women – double the financial services average. A strong focus on retaining talent, and offering flexible and agile working, means that eight-out-of-ten women return to work following maternity leave.

In terms of career progression, high-potential women are selected, supported and tracked. However, the Society, which has a dedicated women's network, is committed to creating even more opportunities for senior women joining the organisation, an aspiration backed at Board level, with results showing that since the introduction of Nationwide's Senior Executive Development Programme in 2010, more than 35 per cent of participants have been women. Additionally, 40 per cent of those taken onto Nationwide's Next Generation Leadership Programme, and more that half of its Future Leader Programme, have been female.

In recognition of the work Government is doing to address the equality issue, Nationwide is fully supportive and is signed up to the Government's Think, Act Report, which aims to improve transparency around gender equality issues in the private and voluntary sector. The Society has also been involved in the Women's Business Council and contributed to its inaugural report into maximising women's contribution to the future of economic growth, which was published by the Government in July. Nationwide also strongly supports the recommendation of the Corporate Governance Code that all company boards should consider the benefits of diversity when making new appointments.

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. See: www.opportunitynow.org.uk

About Nationwide Building Society
Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million members.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 15,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK. 

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. See: www.bitc.org.uk

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