When Nationwide invited women interested in digital careers to an event to mark Ada Lovelace day earlier this month, it was a call to action for those looking for flexibility and career advancement in the technology and digital space. However, this is only one part of the mutual’s push to encourage flexibility across the business.
Nationwide’s decision to hold an event on Ada Lovelace day followed its announcement that it will invest £4bn in digital, data and technology, creating around 1,000 roles in the next few years. The building society wants to ensure a good proportion of those are taken by women.
“We want to target those returning to work, whether that’s from maternity leave or a longer period of time taken for family or other reasons, as well as those thinking of switching to a career in technology,” says chief product owner for digital, Rachel Robinson.
“We’ve committed to creating up to 1,000 new roles in technology, digital and data over the next two to five years. I would like it if a significant number of those roles went to women because we know women are under-represented in technology in the UK.”
At the event, over 120 attendees listened to a morning of inspirational speeches from female speakers such as computer scientist Dr Sue Black OBE. This was followed by an afternoon of practical workshops on building an online profile, work life balance and interviewing skills.
Yet this emphasis on encouraging women into flexible technology opportunities is only one strand of the organisation’s push to demonstrate its openness to flexible working.
The impetus to do so comes from the top. Nationwide CEO Joe Garner says the mutual is proud that most women in the organisation return to work after maternity leave, many in flexible roles. He’s also encouraging new fathers to use flexibility for their family needs.
“I am keen we are pushing the boundaries in this area, and I will actively try to help accommodate more flexible arrangements,” says Garner. “Often, I find that there is no ‘policy’ in the way…people just need to ask!”
Nationwide is clear that diversity is good for the business – the mutual wants its workforce to reflect the society it serves.
“Technology is changing the world and it’s part of making sure our members have a safe, secure place to save their money, finance their homes and manage their day to day finances. We need to keep up with changing expectations,” says Robinson.
While part of the demand for talent will be fed by new graduates and the pipeline, the building society also wants to make opportunities available to women who have been out of the workplace for a period of time – whether that is three months or ten years.
The issue is close to Robinson’s heart. She recently returned to work after having her son and says this has made her acutely aware of the challenges women face practically and emotionally when thinking about managing home and work.
“I’m in a senior executive role and work a four-day week that’s super flexible because that’s what works for me and my family,” she says. “I’m not the only person in that situation – I work with lots of women and men doing three-day weeks in senior and junior roles, across different parts of the business. We’re interested in the individual, their experience and expertise first.”
She is determined to ensure women know these opportunities exist. “Nationwide can help people manage their work-life balance and career ambitions. Many women would be really interested in opportunities at Nationwide but aren’t applying as they don’t see us as a technology employer or a flexible working employer.”
Roles will be available at all levels of seniority and experience. While some will be in computer programming and engineering, they will also need project managers, finance professionals, risk managers, digital designers and researchers.
There are huge numbers of different representations of flexible working across Nationwide – so from marketing to risk to technology the clear message for applicants is that they don’t need to be afraid to have that conversation. There are a variety of ways to work flexibly, from part-time to homeworking to job shares or shorter hours for frontline staff.
For example, employer brand managers Sarah and Laura joined Nationwide’s People and Culture department in December 2017 as a job share, covering a full-time role between them. Before Nationwide, they had known each other for 20 years after meeting through work and have been job sharing for the past seven.
“There’s always the opportunity to talk it through and have the conversation about how we can make things work,” says Robinson. “If people are interested in a role at Nationwide and have the right mix of skills and experience and attitude I would really encourage them to apply or chat to someone in the organisation – get in touch with our HR team.”
While there are already several job opportunities live, Robinson says that the flow will increase in the next 18 months, making now an ideal time to get in touch. “This is the start of something,” she says. “What’s there now is the tip of the iceberg.”
Check out the latest job opportunities available at Nationwide here.