United Network

As well as focusing on their specific member needs, our 8 networks work together, to form a 'United Network'. The group uses the power of the collective to have a bigger impact on inclusion and intersectionality for our colleagues. They offer something for everyone and actively encourage all colleagues to access the networks.

As a place for collective employee voice, they played a critical role in helping us respond to the coronavirus pandemic by bringing what our people were thinking and feeling to the fore to aid decision making. They continue to engage directly with our board and senior leaders to share insight and challenges and are actively involved in shaping and delivering our inclusion and diversity (I&D) strategy.

We're really proud of our employee networks - so you can read all about the impactful work they're driving in their own words below.

Disability network (Enable)

Adjustment passport

Starting a dialogue about workplace adjustments can be daunting and the passport can help make it easier for both the individual and their manager to have these conversations in a sensitive and supportive way, working together to decide on the appropriate next steps. Adjustments can be formal or informal, temporary or permanent. There are many different types of adjustments as the needs of each person will differ, even between people with the same condition. The passport is designed to travel with the individual if they move roles in Nationwide or change manager. This means that, if it is reasonable, their adjustments can continue without having to restart the workplace adjustments process.

The adjustment passport has seen exponential growth in its use across the Society, particularly through the pandemic when our colleagues needed it most. With the developing change in our working environment, its use is expected to increase, providing much needed support and guidance.

Sunflower Scheme

Inspired by first-hand experiences, a team of Nationwide colleagues set out with a goal to improve the in-branch service for members with hidden disabilities; piloting quiet hours across 23 branches, training colleagues to recognise when someone might need extra support. From this, the Sunflower Scheme was developed. Sunflowers are made available to members to display in a range of ways, including a lanyard, pin, sticker or using the sunflower visual in an intranet profile or email signature. 

Safe spaces for conversation

We ran a series of Ask Me Anything sessions over a period of 4 months, with hosts talking about their long-term medical conditions, hidden disabilities and physical disabilities. This was a great opportunity to create greater awareness and help colleagues understand diverse day-to-day needs across the Society. Throughout the month of May, we hosted several workshops focused on mental health with external speakers. These sessions generated more than 2,500 registrations from our Network alone, which demonstrated the value of supporting our colleagues in their mental health journey. Hundreds more watched the videos on playback, an option that is particularly valuable for colleagues in the member-facing community.

Dyslexia Toolkit

Approximately 1 in 10 people is affected by dyslexia, which is why our Dyslexia Support Group have developed a Dyslexia Toolkit. We aim to highlight the positives and challenges of dyslexia and the support available, in an accessible and easy-to-read format. We hope this will prove useful in helping colleagues and managers not only access support, but also increase their understanding.

Gender network (Gender Equality Matters)

Our vision is two-fold: firstly, for Nationwide to be a place in which women are equal and truly free to fulfil their potential creating a stronger, happier, better future for us all. Beyond this, we see Nationwide as being a champion and campaigner externally, for gender equality – driving change for the mutual good of all.

We drive this through these key areas of focus across the Society:

  • gender equality
  • transgender colleague and member experience
  • understanding our data
  • women in tech
  • flexible working for everyone.

We support our members and work collaboratively across the Society to enable a happier, better future for us all – regardless of gender.

Across our areas of focus, we provide our members and colleagues with:

  1. career inspiration sessions
  2. access to role models
  3. regular newsletters
  4. conversation and connections.

And we work collaboratively with our fellow employee networks to really make a difference to our colleagues’ lives.

Ethnicity network (Race Together)

There is no place for racism in Nationwide. Race Together is our passionate race and ethnicity network. Bringing together people from many different cultures and allies, they work hard to accelerate change, amplify diverse voices and champion multiculturalism.

Mutual mentoring

In 2020, Race Together launched a reciprocal mentoring programme pairing senior leaders with colleagues across the organisation from ethnically diverse backgrounds. The programme flips traditional top-down mentoring on its head and encourages senior leaders to learn from different perspectives and experiences, while offering support and guidance.

It’s worked brilliantly so far and built over 75 longstanding working relationships, generating fresh insight and helping spark positive change and understanding across the Society. The network also runs mentoring circles and many other opportunities to help people grow and develop thriving careers at Nationwide.

Powerful partnerships

Anti-racism is everyone’s business. Race Together work closely with a wide range of partners to address social mobility issues, overcome barriers and shape a more inclusive society.

These partners include Black Young Professionals (opens in a new window), Mission Include (opens in a new window) and Business in the Community (opens in a new window). And we’re always keen to hear from other like-minded partners who share a passion for multiculturalism.

Building a Society that reflects society

For Race Together, actions will always speak louder than words. As well as passionate partnerships and impactful mentoring, the network helps to make sure multiculturalism is celebrated and everyone feels at home when they come to work. They host weekly drop-ins to share multicultural topics and events – from celebrations like Chinese New Year, Diwali and Black History Month to powerful discussion points like Black Lives Matter. These are safe spaces for everyone to share and learn. They also work closely with senior leaders and teams across Nationwide to accelerate change.

Working Families Network

Weekly drop-in sessions

A suite of regular virtual drop-in sessions was implemented to support our 1,000-plus active network members. These sessions were particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic and as we moved to new, more remote ways of working.

As well as a weekly working families drop-in session, we also hold fortnightly sessions for expectant, new and returning parents. These sessions bring together parents navigating particularly challenging times, allowing them to share stories and experiences whilst reassuring them they are not alone in the struggles they are facing in the daily effort to make work and life balance. As part of this support, we have also been working with the fabulous resilience coach, Paul Scadding, who joins us on a monthly basis to host a group session to boost resilience and reassure working parents that they are doing the best they can.

Angel Kisses and Rainbow Wishes

We launched ‘Angel Kisses and Rainbow Wishes’, a new baby loss and fertility support group for Nationwide employees. Baby loss and fertility struggles affect many of us at some point in our lives and it's a topic we often battle with alone, not wanting to talk about - especially in the workplace. This new support offering provides a safe space to talk openly about personal struggles which will inevitably affect their life at work. With the opportunity to join group sessions or chat with others on a 1-2-1 basis, we hope that colleagues will feel more able to speak openly about the struggles they are experiencing in their personal lives.

Working Carers Network

Employers for Carers

We were thrilled to be awarded ‘ambassador status’ by Employers for Carers after a rigorous application process - we're only the second company to go straight in at this level.  The external benchmark scheme recognises the extensive support that Nationwide provides to our employees who also provide care for their loved ones.

Proud Network (LGBTQ+)

Pride events

During the summer of 2019, we ran an amazing series of Pride events. We attended eight centrally organised Pride Parades and 20 locally organised Pride Parades were supported through either a ‘Pride Parade in a Box’ or through local funding and resource.

Nationwide were also the main sponsor for the Swindon and Wiltshire Pride Parade where locals could participate in charity fundraising and gave us fantastic feedback.

For 2020 we had big plans, but Pride sadly had to be virtual. While it’s a shame we couldn’t march together, we didn’t let that dampen our spirits and stop the fun! We ran a host of virtual activities including an employee dance challenge, a Nationwide LIVE! radio takeover, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson viewing party, an LGBTQ+ quiz hosted by our resident drag queen, shared colleague stories and ran an external campaign on social media.

In 2021 we were the Titanium sponsors of the Student Pride and hosted a virtual booth at the careers fair, promoting Nationwide as an LGBTQ+ inclusive employer to young talent.

These events demonstrate Nationwide’s support for the LGBTQ+ community as an inclusive employer, bringing to life diverse voices and allowing all colleagues to celebrate difference.

Awareness initiatives

We regularly run celebratory events aligned with important dates in the LGBTQ+ calendar, both Society-wide and within our network, to help educate, celebrate and support colleagues.

Raising awareness for both the LGBTQ+ community and its allies is so important on the journey towards equality.

For National Coming Out Day 2019 we posted a fun ‘coming out’ video where people came out sharing facts about themselves, including our executive sponsor at the time coming out as an ally with a love of wine gums!

For Transgender Awareness Week 2020 we collaborated with our Gender Network to host an educational panel article with a mix of guest speakers including Mermaids and the LGBT Foundation. Alongside this, the network ran a week-long campaign to share the history of the awareness week, celebrate role models and promote trans issues. Our network engagement is supported by monthly newsletters, drop-ins and Yammer conversations.

Hosting inspirational speakers

We run regular events with colleagues and external guests, focusing on different LGBTQ+ issues, always with intersectionality at the heart.

We were delighted to host Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, otherwise known as Lady Phyll, for an employee ‘Unplugged’ session in September 2019 – a series of speakers addressing a wide range of interest topics. In this employee webcast, Lady Phyll shared a thought-provoking insight into the intersectionality of race, gender, class and sexuality.

More recently we were delighted to hear from representatives from the Federation of the Gay Games, life coach and motivational speaker Paul Scadding and author, journalist and Buddhist teacher Dr. Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John to celebrate 2021 LGBTQ+ History Month.

Faith and Belief Network (FaB)

Time to Talk

We have organised a range of regular drop-in sessions, which evolved from being site-specific, pre-coronavirus, to central unified virtual sessions.

Our 'Time to Talk' drop-in monthly sessions, organised by Christian Network (within FaB) address a variety of network member-led life issues and is open to all interested.

For those who can’t make the live sessions, a 15-minute pre-recorded video is also available.

Your Amazing Heart – resilience workshop

As part of our 'kindness’ theme in May, FaB organised the Your Amazing Heart resilience workshop, led by renowned GP counsellor, Dr. Stephen Brooke. Dr. Brooke uses a medically evidenced technique for managing stress from a faith perspective. This was attended by over 100 participants.

Hindu Network

After revisiting our vision and purpose, we identified that establishing individual faith groups within FaB will elevate our specialism and better serve the needs of our members with different faiths.

So, following on the success of our well-established Christian Network, which enjoys strong engagement, we recently launched a Hindu Network, and plans are underway to launch our new Muslim and Buddhist groups. We will celebrate our differences, and will remain one Network. 

The Veteran and Reservist Network

Our military network aims to support colleagues with a military connection. Membership includes military spouses, veterans, reservists and colleagues with family serving in the military.

Virtual drop-in sessions

A central purpose of our network has been to enable military veterans to thrive and succeed at Nationwide. Key to this has been providing opportunities for our military members to meet, network and offer peer-to-peer coaching.

During coronavirus, as we moved to new, more remote ways of working, we established virtual drop-in sessions where our members could connect, share experiences to minimise the effects of isolation and ensure those who needed support could access it.

Supporting our reservists

We have a small but active cohort of military reserve personnel. As an example, the last 3 squadron commanders of Swindon-based Y Squadron, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, have come from Nationwide.

Many of our reservists take advantage of the 10 additional days of holiday provided by Nationwide, which enables them to fulfil their annual military training objectives.

During 2020 and 2021, Nationwide’s reservists were mobilised to support the government’s coronavirus response. We actively support Armed Forces Week, encouraging our reservists to ‘wear uniform to work’ and regularly invite local reserve units to run events at our Swindon head office.

Supporting personnel leaving the forces

We’ve been active in supporting military personnel in taking up new careers upon leaving the military.

We support the Career Transition Partnership with speakers from Nationwide, and we use our website to connect service leavers with colleagues who share their experiences of leaving the military.

We’re currently exploring how we can assist military personnel to take advantage of our recruitment and training programmes.

Valuing the experiences of military personnel

During Armed Forces Week, we invited our senior leaders to an event showcasing how military personnel are empowered to lead at all levels.

Military speakers outlined how ‘accountable freedom’ works in the military context and how a culture of valuing everyone contributes to success. Ex-RAF fighter pilot and England Rugby star, Rory Underwood, spoke about his journey from military to civilian life and what leadership means to him.

Our veterans hosted table-top discussions about how accountable freedom might be further reinforced at Nationwide.