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Diversity is central to our success as a Society

Diversity is central to our success as a Society

"Have you ever felt different from everyone else in the room?"

In this short film, our People & Culture leader Jane Hanson explains why she's passionate about diversity and inclusion.
Joe Garner Full Shot Cropped Resized (2)
Joe Garner, CEO

Why is diversity important to you Joe?

‘As a mutual organisation, we are guided by a social purpose which we interpret as ‘building society, nationwide’. A key element of fulfilling this purpose is employing a mix of people that reflect the wider communities that we serve.
Achieving this ambition takes sustained effort and focus but the benefits of building a truly inclusive and diverse organisation where all our employees can thrive are transformational.’

People united

Nationwide's eight Employee Network Groups (ENGs) are open to all employees, including those who share similar characteristics or life experiences and who want to connect with others. The aims of the ENGs are to provide peer support, to work collaboratively with the business to help deliver our Inclusion and Diversity strategy and to act as a collective employee voice.

They're for everyone, wherever you work, whatever your role and regardless of whether you share the primary characteristics of the group or not, and are a great way to get involved in our I&D agenda.

Our employee networks

Logos Proud

Supporting LGBTQ+ colleagues

Logos Gender Network

Re-balancing opportunities for men and women

Logos Disability

Making work work for everyone

Logos Fab

We are what we believe

Logos Race Together

Taking action for racial equality

And for those with more than one 'job'

Logos Working Carers (1)

Supporting carers who have careers

Logos Working Families

Work life: home life: one life. Helping you thrive

Logos Veterans And Reservists

Integrating military service with our mutual Society

Anna Whitehouse 1

Flex Appeal

A webinar with Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka, was one of the activities our Gender Equality employee network arranged to mark International Women’s Day this year.

Anna is a journalist, blogger and driving force for flexible working. She started Flex Appeal in 2015, a year after the 2014 law giving every employee in the UK with more than six months in their job the right to request flexible working. Nearly nine million UK workers said they wanted to work flexibly but didn’t have the option.*

“I saw that for parents especially, average commuting times and limited nursery hours, were making it nigh on impossible for two parents to work 9-5 in the office”.

“Open the flood gates because people are drowning behind them.”

In her words, Flex Appeal campaigns “for employers to offer flexible working to all staff. It might be compressed hours, homeworking, flexitime, smarter shift patterns or any other variation, but hundreds of studies have shown flex improves access to work, reduces stress and improves our physical and mental health. And it’s good for employers, because it raises productivity, improves loyalty and can cut costs.”

Working from home was certainly boosted up the flex agenda at Nationwide in March 2020 when, overnight, almost 10,000 colleagues left our offices for a ‘two-day’ homeworking trial which has yet to end. A timely investment in late 2019 giving colleagues new laptops enabled with MS Teams proved pivotal in making this a success.

Of necessity, old attitudes about control and presenteeism were swept aside. But Anna is keen to point out that enforced home working is not the same as flexible working and that the debate is ongoing.

In November 2020, Flex Appeal published a report, Forever Flex, sponsored by Robert McAlpine investigating next generation working and what flexible working looks like post-Covid crisis.

Its recommendations include employers being open and honest, and not making assumptions on behalf of colleagues.

“Ongoing two-way communication is critical. Talk honestly and openly, and try to share vulnerabilities. Listening is even more important. Where’s the rub in your day? What one small thing would improve your working life?

“A flexible approach still needs boundaries. Do you need people to work core hours? Are there certain service levels that must be met? Should people communicate in specific ways? Tell them. Make expectations crystal clear.”

The key Anna says is to “Recruit the right people, trust them and empower them”.

At Nationwide, we want you to be able to work in a way that suits you. Early in 2021, nearly 9,000 colleagues completed our 'Future of Work' survey so their ideas and needs could shape how we move forwards. If you’re considering us as your next employer, do talk to us about what flexibility helps you do your best work.


*'A flexible future for Britain' report by Timewise


Choosing to challenge

International Women's Day on 8 March each year is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality.

As a Society, our goal is to achieve a 50/50 gender balance in senior leadership roles by 2028 (for context, currently around 34% of our senior leaders are female). If we're going to get there, collectively we all need to strive for and champion equality.

This isn't about playing down the role of men, or anyone who doesn't identify as female, and gender balance isn't solely a 'women's issue' or a recent focus - it's been on our agenda for quite some time!

In a recent survey, 81% of colleagues said they believe everyone has a role to play in creating a more gender-balanced world. Nationwide’s family-friendly policies open the door to men who choose to share leave to look after their babies, or reduce their hours to balance family and work commitments.

Our thriving Gender Equality employee network is open to everyone at Nationwide, with the aim of promoting gender equality, calling it out when it's not there, and pushing for more action to level the playing field.

And this #ChooseToChallenge movement is nothing new. Gwynedd John joined Nationwide Building Society in 1917 and stayed for 44 years. At a jubilee banquet attended by all the staff and directors of the building society, one of the speakers congratulated the female staff on their contribution to the Society’s success. Gwynedd was asked to respond to the compliment. In what was hailed as the best speech of the evening, she stated that “staff should be considered as a whole and not in relation to sex”.

During the week of 8 March 2021, colleagues are  sharing their experiences of gender equality, the good, the bad and the ugly, to challenge the status quo and inspire progress.

It should go without saying that inclusion and diversity are fundamental to our success as an organisation. They're at the heart of mutuality and our PRIDE values, and it's a non-negotiable in how we at Nationwide work together.

Without an inclusive culture, we can't all truly thrive.

Time for change

"Ever since the police killing of George Floyd highlighted the lack of racial justice in so many countries, Nationwide’s Race Together network has re-doubled their efforts to bring long overdue change to the business", says co-chair Aisha Lewis.

Nationwide sent a clear message about the Society's commitment to equality by taking part in Channel 4's Black and Proud film. Aisha herself appeared in the two-minute TV ad featuring employees from Nationwide, the NHS, Virgin Media and other big-name brands talking about what Black History Month means to them and their hopes for the future.

Watch it now, and find out more below about the actions we're taking to bring about change.

A two-way dialogue

“Back in the summer, we asked the organisation to stand up to this problem and confirm silence is not an option, because we’ve been sat for too many years saying nothing and that’s why nothing’s changed,” Aisha says.

“So across a day and a half, we produced a video with 500 colleagues coming forward from all walks of life to hold up a Silence Is Not An Option card to show allyship to those that needed it the most at that time.”
The video, alongside a number of intranet articles, became the Society’s most liked and commented upon intranet post when it was launched and was later screened at an event for the Society’s top 1,000 leaders."

Then during Black History Month in October, the network ensured posters were on display in every branch across the UK and involved 5,000 colleagues in celebrating Black achievement.

The network has also helped launch a new reciprocal mentoring programme involving 80 of the Society’s most senior leaders, including Chief Executive Officer Joe Garner.

“It’s a two-way dialogue,” Aisha says.

“The idea is to help retain and progress Black and Asian talent through the organisation and at the same time help educate and support our leaders on issues they need to be consciously competent about to benefit the organisation for the way forward.”