15 December 2015

150 TalkBacks later…

3 minute read

  • Our last TalkBack event of 2015 took place at the Emirates Stadium in London
  • This was our 150th TalkBack event
  • The issue of women in senior positions was discussed

Since the late 1990s, we’ve been hosting Member TalkBack events all over the country so that we can share the latest information about the Society and, most importantly, hear back from members about what matters most to them. It is really important to us, as a mutual building society, to make sure that our members’ voices are heard loud and clear and help shape and evolve the direction of the Society in the future.

Back in the 90s it was important to talk about the issue of ‘carpet bagging’ when many building societies became banks (and where are they now?) and have evolved to be something of a platform for Nationwide’s Directors to hear directly from members. You’ll also be really pleased to learn that many of the things that members talk about on the night get turned into real actions that help shape the direction of the Society and improve members’ experience all over the UK – see our You Asked, We Acted section for more details.

The London audience at our 150th event was an engaged group and was diverse in their range of ideas and issues. The hosts, Chris Rhodes, Group Retail Director, and Greg Heaton, Divisional Director of the Branch Network in the South, were met with many interesting questions – ranging from environmental impact, through to innovation in mortgages, and future developments working with the Post Office. We were also delighted to be joined by David Roberts, who is the Chairman of Nationwide Building Society. It’s the first time I’ve seen David speak and he is a really passionate individual who always takes the bigger picture view for the success of the Society. He could simply and eloquently articulate that some of the most important things we do as a building society are to keep members’ money very safe, and that by not having profit-hungry shareholders, like a plc bank does, we can actually invest in excellent customer service for the benefit of all members.

One of the questions that really stuck out for me at this event was about the gender balance in both the Boardroom and senior management structures. This is a subject I’ve always had a passion for advocating and supporting (yes, I’m a #HeForShe). I have always striven to make sure that I treat everyone absolutely equally, and I love investing time and effort in helping people succeed. It’s one of the values that attracted me to work for Nationwide, and I’m sure that it’s a shared value between many of our members too. David Roberts stated that Nationwide still has some work to do in this sphere. At the moment, 27% of the Board is female (with an aspiration of 33%) and 21% of the senior management is female. What was most refreshing is that he recognised that diversity, in all its forms, is absolutely best for the organisation. It’s not just a ‘nice-to-have’, it is absolutely imperative that our Board and senior management reflect the members they serve, and it has been proven that more diverse boards make better decisions.

As with other TalkBack events, the final act of the night was to ask the members to vote for a local charity to support. Nationwide contributes a £2000 jackpot for local charities and then splits the money according to the number of votes cast for each charity. It’s a way of making every vote count and members’ voices heard. The three charities supported on the night were: Great Ormond Street Hospital (47% vote share = £940); Spitalfields Crypt Trust (29% vote share = £580) and The Stuart Low Trust (24% vote share = £480).

As it was our 150th TalkBack event, we had something of a celebration with some ‘birthday’ cakes, balloons and celebrations at the end of the evening. It was great to be at this milestone event, nearly 20 years after the TalkBack idea began.

“I’m really proud that my team delivers these opportunities – but we’re not stopping with 150!”

It is absolutely our goal in the Member Engagement team to help facilitate dialogue between our members and the decision makers in Nationwide. As such, I’m really proud that my team delivers these opportunities – but we’re not stopping with 150! In fact, we’re looking at new and exciting ways to develop the Member TalkBacks for a roadshow throughout 2016. I know we can’t do comments on this blog (yet … it’s coming!), so if you’ve got any ideas about the kind of things you would like to see from Nationwide in your area in order to have your voice heard, email me at sam.grayston@nationwide.co.uk. I look forward to hearing your ideas and seeing if we can put them into action.

About the author

Sam Grayston

Nationwide hold TalkBack events around the country. Sam Grayston, Senior Manager of the Member Engagement Team, shares his thoughts on the events.

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