Human rights statement
We’re committed to ensuring that the way we go about our business, and the products and services we provide, are always offered with the rights of others in mind. From the customers and communities we serve, to the people we employ and the partners and suppliers we work with, we strive to ensure people are positively impacted by our business.
What's on this page
Our purpose and values
Nationwide holds a unique position in the UK financial services sector. As the largest building society, we can deliver banking products and services, as well as mutual good, to our customers in a way banks are unable to. We are owned by our members. Members are our customers who have a current account, mortgage or savings account with us. We aim to return additional value to our members as our owners. We deliver banking products and services to them to help them manage their everyday finances, own a home, and save for the future. We also support landlords and those who rely on the private rented sector for their long-term housing needs through our buy-to-let business, The Mortgage Works.
Our strategy is centred around our purpose: ‘Banking – but fairer, more rewarding, and for the good of society.’ This states our ambition to make a positive difference for our members, customers, communities and society as a whole.
Our commitment to human rights
We believe in doing business in a way that promotes and respects the human rights of everyone who is impacted by Nationwide. We are committed to building positive relationships with all our stakeholders.
Through our policies and processes we seek to make a positive impact on our range of stakeholders. They are also designed to protect the dignity and interests of our stakeholders. We address and reduce, where possible, any potential negative impacts that our business might have on those around us.
Nationwide’s respect for human rights is aligned with the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and those codified in international law through the International Bill of Human Rights. This consists of the:
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (opens in a new window)
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (opens in a new window)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (opens in a new window)
- International Labour Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (opens in a new window)
As a signatory to the UN Global Compact, we are aligned to its standards, including those around human rights and labour rights. We are a signatory to the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Responsible Banking, reinforcing our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is also our aspiration to support the UK in achieving its ambition to be net-zero by 2050. In 2021, we became a member of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) and part of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), committing to playing our part in supporting the transition to a net-zero economy. Our Mutual Good Commitments demonstrate how our business aligns to and supports the UN SDGs. More information on our Mutual Good Commitments can be found in our Sustainability Report.
Our participation in the UN Global Compact’s Business and Human Rights Accelerator programme in 2023 has increased our understanding of best practice when conducting our due diligence with respect to human rights.
In accordance with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, we publish our annual Modern Slavery Act Statement on our website. This outlines the steps we take to mitigate the risk of slavery or human trafficking taking place across our business, operations, and supply chain.
Understanding and responding to people risks
We take great care in trying to identify and reduce any harm that may affect people, either directly or indirectly, by the way we do business. This is an ongoing process that we take very seriously, across our operations and value chain. The measures we have put in place to support our customers, colleagues and suppliers are described in our Sustainability Report. Our controls are laid out in our Policies and Statements.
Supporting customers' rights
Nationwide exists to help customers manage their everyday finances, save for the future, and own a home. These are human rights that afford people dignity, security, equality, and inclusion. We recognise our responsibility in helping to reduce some of the risks and challenges that might prevent equal access to these rights.
The right to financial security and a safe home
We want to support and protect our customers’ financial wellbeing by helping to build their financial resilience. We do this by:
- increasing our customers’ confidence with money.
- helping to protect our customers from economic crime.
- providing specialist support for customers in vulnerable circumstances when they need us most.
We have a variety of initiatives to support our ambitions. These include financial health checks in branches, savings tools, and financial and digital education.
We want to help protect our customers by:
- understanding and responding to vulnerable customer needs.
- finding different ways to help customers with their financial difficulties.
- applying a strong ethic of care, inclusion, and accessibility through the design and availability of our channels, our aims for financial inclusion, and in the way we design, sell and manage our products and services.
- recognising the financial and social benefits of owning a home, and helping to overcome the barriers many people experience in buying and accessing quality homes.
- engaging with regulators and policymakers to champion the needs and interests of our customers.
We’re also helping to address housing needs through:
- lending to social housing providers.
- partnering with national housing charity, Shelter.
- social investment and Community Grants, in which we provide grants to local housing charities and projects across the UK.
The right to be protected from crime
We continue to work to protect our customers from becoming the victims of crime, and to prevent Nationwide from being used to facilitate criminal activity, including economic crime. Strong governance, culture, policies, and defence systems, coupled with training, heightened awareness, and human interventions, all play their part in helping us to protect our customers.
We focus on:
- ensuring our customers can transact safely, protecting customers from fraud and scams.
- using policies, procedures, and regular training to help us operate with integrity, defend against economic crime and protect society.
- keeping customers’ money and personal data safe and secure by managing cyber risks.
- respecting and protecting our customers’ data, ensuring privacy.
- providing a range of ways for customers to raise concerns.
The right to freedom from slavery and human trafficking
Modern slavery and human trafficking is a crime. Financial institutions use their systems and controls to minimise the risk to customers. Nationwide is committed to fighting modern slavery throughout its retail business, operations and supply chain. Our anti-slavery approach has three focus areas:
- detect and disrupt
- raise awareness
- support victim-survivors
We mitigate and manage the risk of modern slavery through a range of controls and due diligence processes. These include:
- recruiting colleagues in a responsible way, providing training, and promoting channels for speaking up and whistleblowing.
- conducting robust due diligence within our supply chain processes, including requiring our suppliers to comply with our Third Party Code of Practice, working with sustainability ratings provider EcoVadis to help us monitor our suppliers’ sustainability performance (including labour, human rights and ethics performance), and conducting enhanced monitoring within certain higher risk areas of our supply chain.
- working with survivor charities to support victims in regaining financial independence.
- an internal, cross-functional working group that enables us to co-ordinate initiatives, insights and learnings.
In addition, we work with modern slavery charities to build our own knowledge and understanding on how we can best respond to the needs of vulnerable customers.
Our Modern Slavery Act Statement outlines what we are doing to help fight modern slavery.
Supporting colleagues’ rights
Working with colleagues to help them perform at their best
We want to be a great place to work. We provide our colleagues with a safe and healthy work environment that is flexible to their needs. This includes ensuring our colleagues have a voice and the confidence to bring their whole selves to work.
Empowering our people
Our colleagues are encouraged to bring out the best in each other, to create a place where differences are valued. We continue to support our colleagues with their physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial wellbeing. Some of the ways we do this are through:
- our generous package of family friendly leave and flexible working (opens in a new window).
- enabling hybrid working and a choice of working patterns, so that our colleagues are not unfairly disadvantaged by personal characteristics, family or caring circumstances.
- recognising inclusion and wellbeing as central to our colleagues’ ability to thrive.
- our employee network groups, where our people can share their thoughts and experiences, learn from others, and influence change.
- supporting our colleagues’ right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
We carry out regular pay monitoring and test our approach through periodic equal pay audits. These make sure our policies are operating fairly and without bias. We also publish our gender and ethnicity pay gaps annually.
Treating our people with dignity and respect
Our culture at Nationwide is built on a strong ethic of care that treats our people with dignity and respect.
For us this involves:
- rewarding people fairly and creating a climate that enables people to perform better.
- balancing commerciality with our values and ethic of care so that, as we transform our organisation, our people still feel supported.
- protecting and promoting our colleagues’ right to decent work.
Our labour rights standard provides further detail on our commitment to protect and promote labour rights.
Listening to colleagues
Our code of conduct supports our commitment to promote a culture of honesty and integrity across Nationwide, enabling our people to do the right thing for our customers. We continually listen to our colleagues by providing regular opportunities for them to share their views, including through our culture and engagement surveys.
This frequent insight into our colleagues’ experience means we can respond with agility and pace to support where and when it is needed. We gather insights through our employee network groups, engagement with Nationwide Group Staff Union (NGSU) and Employee Connect. We also hold question and answer sessions with our Executive Committee and Non-Executive Directors.
We do everything we can to create an environment where colleagues feel safe to speak up, and feel confident that when they do, any concerns of wrongdoing, misconduct, or behaviours will be listened to, and acted upon. Likewise, we have policies and processes in place to respond to identified cases of discrimination, abuse or harassment. We provide several ways to 'Speak Up' at Nationwide, including, but not limited to, our whistleblowing process.
The fundamental ways in which Nationwide operates, from our social investments, to our charity partnerships and our relationship with the environment, all leave their mark on the ability of our communities to thrive. Thriving communities offer secure homes, reliable access to finances, a good standard of education and learning, and positive job and career prospects. As a mutual, we seek to make a positive difference for our customers, communities and society as a whole. We commit at least 1% of our pre-tax profits each year to charitable activities. We also seek to use our voice to drive positive change, using our size, influence and values to work for the good of society.
This includes making representations to the government and politicians to champion the interests of our customers and Nationwide, such as working with them to help overcome the barriers to owning a home, and on enhancing protection from fraud and scams. We’re also engaged through our trade association memberships, including UK Finance and the Building Societies Association.
Helping to protect and restore the environment
As a mutual, and a member of the Financing a Just Transition Alliance, we believe in supporting a just transition so that as we transition to a net zero economy the most vulnerable in society are not disadvantaged.
Our Climate-related Financial Disclosures describe our understanding of the impact of climate change on Nationwide and our customers. It outlines the actions we are taking to understand and manage climate-related risk.
Our Environmental Standard directs colleagues to the relevant policies, guides and training to support Nationwide's environmental ambition.
We recognise that we are facing a critical moment for climate change and continue to work towards a net zero future. Our business model means that our strategy does not involve lending to, or investing in, the fossil fuel industry.
In 2020, we committed to holding a minimum amount of environmental, social and governance (ESG) bonds within our treasury portfolio. We define ESG bonds as those issued by multilateral development banks and certain green bonds. Multilateral development banks provide financial support for economic and social progress in developing countries, and thereby advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Between April 2020 to April 2023 we committed to trebling our ESG holdings from £500 million to £1.5 billion. We met this target, as reported in our Annual Report and Accounts 2023, and will maintain a minimum holding of £1.5 billion for the financial year 2023/24.
Read about our approach in our Responsible investment statement.
Ensuring human rights are met through our supply chain
It is important that our suppliers represent Nationwide and demonstrate a commitment to our policies and standards. Nationwide’s Third Party Code of Practice - PDF 1,019KB (opens in a new window) outlines the environmental and social standards we expect our suppliers to uphold, beyond applicable legal requirements. This includes our expectations to respect the values and human rights of their employees, to never use child, forced, or involuntary labour, and to ensure working hours are within local regulations and industry practices. Their employees must be free to join worker organisations, should they wish, and must be provided with clear disciplinary and grievance procedures.
At onboarding, all prospective suppliers are asked to agree to comply with our Third Party Code of Practice - PDF 1,019 KB (opens in a new window). They are also asked if they have produced a compliant statement under the UK Modern Slavery Act. If either of the questions are answered negatively, we investigate and seek to create a plan to close any gaps before the supplier can work with us. Only where certain circumstances apply will a dispensation be granted by our senior procurement team.
Since 2021, Nationwide has partnered with sustainability ratings provider EcoVadis, to help us monitor our suppliers’ performance across environment, labour, human rights, ethics, and sustainable procurement activities. Third parties are asked to complete the assessment on an annual basis. We have set a minimum benchmark sustainability rating for suppliers, and suppliers that score below this are required to provide a corrective action plan to improve within 12 months, and are reassessed at this point.
More on how we responsibly and ethically select and manage our third parties, while supporting their needs and interests, can be found in our Sustainability Report.
Our Responsible Business Committee, chaired by the Director of Strategy, Performance and Sustainability and attended by senior representatives from across the business, provides oversight for the development of Nationwide’s Statement on Human Rights.
We use research, policies, risk assessments, and other strategies and initiatives to support and protect the human rights of our customers, colleagues, third parties and communities. The governance structures that manage and oversee these, each feed into their relevant Executive and Board sub-committees and into meetings of the Executive Committee.
Supporting policies and processes
Our Statement on Human Rights is supported by policies and processes that help us to identify human rights coverage and any associated risks and gaps.
Working conditions and wellbeing policies
These include our:
- Anti-slavery standard and guidance
- Inclusion and diversity policy
- Fair treatment at work policy
- Family friendly policies (which include, becoming a parent, flexible working, and time off policies)
- Disciplinary policy and our resolution framework (which covers grievance, harassment and bullying policies)
- Health, safety, environmental and wellbeing policies
- Healthcare and protection benefits policy
- Hybrid working policy (how we work together)
- Job security and redundancy policy
- Payments and working arrangement policies
- Pensions policy
- Rewards policy
- Third party code of practice
- Whistleblowing policy
- Labour rights standard
These include our:
- Financial crime prevention policy
- Anti-corruption policy
- Fraud policy
Legal, regulatory and protection
These include our:
- Anti-bribery and corruption policy
- Gifts and hospitality policy
- Internal fraud policy
- Market abuse policy
- Privacy and monitoring policy
- Regulatory conduct and responsibilities
- Tax policy
- Code of conduct policy
- Conflicts of interest policy
- Modern slavery statement
Products and propositions
These include our:
- Retail product lifecycle policy
- Technology policy
- Brand, member and colleague communications policy
Last updated: December 2023