Board composition and succession policy
1. Purpose of policy
1.1 To ensure that the Board of Nationwide Building Society (the Board) is composed of persons who collectively:
1.1.1 Are fit and proper to direct the Society's business with prudence, integrity and professional skills.
1.1.2 Possess an appropriate range of diverse backgrounds and balance of skills, experience, knowledge and behaviours.
1.2 To provide policy guidance on the structure, size and composition of the Board (and its committees) and the identification and selection of suitable candidates for appointment to the Board (and its committees).
1.3 To summarise the specific responsibilities of the Nomination and Governance Committee in regard to board composition and succession, as set out in the Nomination and Governance Committee Terms of Reference.
2. Director Appointments
2.1 The Nomination and Governance Committee reviews all appointments to the Board and its Committees, as well as the Nationwide Leadership Team and their direct reports and all Material Risk Takers.
2.2 The Nomination and Governance Committee ensures that a robust recruitment process is undertaken for all these appointments to deliver fair and effective selection outcomes.
2.3 In respect of Board appointments, the Committee ensures that any search agency used has no connection with the Society and that the directorships of appointed Board members are within Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) advised limitations.
2.4 If a prospective non-executive Director wishes to carry out due diligence on the Society to understand the business and appreciate the time commitment involved in the role, the Society will assist with the exercise to the extent that is reasonable and practicable.
2.5 Appointed Board Directors will take office on terms (set out in a service contract or letter of appointment, as appropriate) consistent with the Board Composition and Succession Policy.
2.6 The Society’s Rules require that Board Directors must be re-elected by the Society’s membership every three years. However, in accordance with the recommendation in the UK Corporate Governance Code, the Society’s Directors are re-elected every year. Before re-election, a non- executive Director will be subject to a review by the Society Chair of that Director’s continued effectiveness and independence.
2.7 All Board Directors are expected to devote sufficient time to the Society to discharge their responsibilities effectively. A non-executive Director's other directorships should be disclosed to the Board before appointment and included in the annual report. Changes to such directorships should be reported to the Board as they arise and be included in the next annual report.
2.8 Any other matters or circumstances (including other business interests) which could result in a Director having a conflict of interest should be disclosed to the Board prior to appointment and thereafter as they arise. The Society manages this process in accordance with a policy agreed by the Board.
2.9 Before re-appointing the Board Directors, the Society will consider the value of ensuring that Board and Board Committee membership is refreshed and that undue reliance is not placed on particular individuals.
2.10 The office of Society Chair is filled as appropriate and on an annual basis (under Society Rule 29(a)) on election by the Board.
3. Board Composition
3.1 The number of Board Directors (determined by the Board under Society Rule 28) must not be less than eight (including the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Financial Officer). At least half of the Board excluding the Society Chair should be non-executive Directors whom the Board considers to be independent. Other members of the Board should be Executive Directors employed full time by the Society in key senior management positions.
3.2 The Board shall include at least one non-executive Director potentially having the attributes (but possibly subject to further development) for the office of Society Chair.
3.3 On appointment, all directors must meet the test of fitness and propriety laid down by the PRA or Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
3.4 On an annual basis, a Fit and Proper persons test is conducted to determine Directors’ ongoing suitability to remain on the Board. The assessment process covers amongst other things, skills, knowledge, experience, integrity and time commitment.
3.5 The Nomination and Governance Committee will assess Board composition on behalf of the Board and will endeavour to ensure that the Board and Committees have the capabilities required to be effective and oversee the organisation’s strategic priorities, culture and purpose. This will include an appropriate range and balance of skills, experience, knowledge and behaviours.
3.6 A non-executive Director with recent and relevant financial experience will be appointed as a member of the Audit Committee.
4. Board Diversity Statement
4.1 Nationwide is committed to building society, nationwide and this begins with having a diverse and inclusive board to set the strategy, tone, culture and purpose of the organisation.
4.2 The Board is committed to ensuring that it is comprised of a membership which is diverse and reflects the Nationwide members that it represents. It aims to achieve this by ensuring representation within the Board of race, age, gender, disability and sexuality in addition to appropriate educational and professional backgrounds. This will be a key determinant of any new appointments. It will also be taken into consideration in the development of a diverse pipeline for succession.
4.3 Selecting the best candidate is paramount and all appointments will be based on merit and objective criteria with due regard for the benefits of diversity on the Board. This will benefit the effectiveness of the Board by creating a breadth of perspective among Directors.
4.4 The Society continues to commit to the Board diversity targets set for FTSE 100 companies of a minimum of 33% female representation on the Board and a minimum of one Board Director drawn from an ethnic diverse background. The Board has an aspiration to be at least in line with the Society’s gender and ethnicity diversity measures for its senior leadership population of 50% female and 12% ethnic diversity representation by 2028, recognising that short term challenges may exist due to the size of the Board during periods of change.
4.5 The Society has also committed to the following diversity measures:
- Increasing female representation to 50% across the senior leadership population by 2028.
- Increasing ethnic diversity representation to 12% across the senior leadership population by 2028.
- Increasing ethnic diversity representation to 15% across all levels of the Society by 2028.
- Increasing disability representation to 12% across all levels of the society by 2028.
- Increasing LGBTQ+ representation to 4% across the senior leadership population and across all levels of the Society by 2028.
These measures are supported by a refreshed, Inclusion and Diversity Mission underpinned by business owned community and action plans. Progress against these measures are reviewed and reported by the Nomination and Governance Committee in the Society’s Annual Report and Accounts. The Nomination and Governance Committee will challenge management to improve policies and processes in place wherever diversity measures are not being achieved or progressed. Regular updates will also be provided to the Board.
5.1 The Nomination and Governance Committee will give full consideration to succession planning for the Board and the Nationwide Leadership Team, taking into account the challenges and opportunities facing the Society and its leadership needs.
5.2 The Senior Independent Director will be responsible for the succession process for the Society Chair.
5.3 In identifying suitable external board candidates, independent executive search consultants will normally be used. The Society will also develop internal talent and capability.
5.4 Commitment to diversity will be a key factor in succession planning for the board, both through the development of diverse succession pipeline talent, as well as criteria for independent executive search consultants when identifying suitable external candidates.
5.5 The Nomination and Governance Committee will undertake a full review of board talent and succession at least once a year. Delivery of succession plans through appointments and development support will be continuous and proactive.
5.6 Talent and succession planning will be undertaken for all senior management roles in the Society and reported to the Board on an annual basis.
6. Board Effectiveness
6.1 An independent evaluation of the Board's performance will be held a minimum of every three years by an appointed specialist third party. In the interim years, an internal evaluation will be carried out. An annual evaluation of the activities of the principal Board committees will also be undertaken.
6.2 The evaluation of Board performance will also consider diversity of the Board.
6.3 The Society Chair should act on the results of the Board's evaluation by recognising the strengths and addressing the weaknesses of the Board and recommending any areas for development. If appropriate, the Society Chair will propose that new members are appointed to the Board or will seek the resignation of Board Directors.
7. Director Development
7.1 On appointment, Directors will participate in a comprehensive and tailored induction programme and will acquire an understanding of the main areas of the Society's business activity through meetings with senior and middle managers.
7.2 Performance reviews will be conducted at least once a year with all Directors. The Society Chair will review the effectiveness of the non-executive Directors. The Senior Independent Director will review the effectiveness of the Society Chair. Performance reviews for the Nationwide Leadership Team will be undertaken with the Chief Executive.
7.3 As part of the review process, Directors will plan relevant development to support their future performance and contribution. Individual development opportunities for Directors will normally include external conferences, seminars, coaching and mentoring. Collective learning needs will be met through subject specific master classes and other leadership development events organised by the Society. Organisational learning will be facilitated through internal networking departmental visits, regular Board Updates and the annual Strategy Conference.
7.4 Non-executive Directors should maintain sufficient contact with Society members to understand their issues and concerns and keep in touch with member opinion in whatever ways are most practical and efficient. This is likely to include attending the Annual General Meeting, taking part in Member TalkBacks and visiting branch offices.
7.5 Development for identified key talent throughout the Society will also be supported to develop internal capability for succession. This provision will promote diversity and ensure that employees with potential have the opportunity to develop and progress through the corporate pipeline.
8. Variation of the Board Composition and Succession Policy
8.1 This policy will be reviewed by the Nomination and Governance Committee annually and at such other times as circumstances may require (e.g. a major corporate development or any unexpected resignation from the Board). This policy may only be amended, or its requirements varied, in relation to individual circumstances, with the approval of the Board.
Approved by the Board July 2021