Santander launches latest mentoring programme to support women in business
Santander UK has today launched its latest programme to bolster its support for businesswomen across the UK – the Women Business Leaders’ mentoring programme.
Designed to support women in business across the UK, the mentoring programme pairs budding female entrepreneurs with established business leaders across all sectors, business sizes and geographies. The bank is calling on all businesswomen who feel they would benefit from mentoring – as well as both male and female business owners who think they can add value by becoming a mentor – to sign up quickly to the programme as spaces will fill up fast.
For the last two years, the bank has run the programme remotely due to the Covid pandemic, which has enabled even more people to join as distance was no longer an issue and so much travel time was saved. Following last year’s successful programme, the bank expects to pair over 200 mentors and mentees as news of the popularity of the programme disseminates among the SME community.
Recent data revealed that the impact of the pandemic has been far greater on female employment than male employment in the UK. The IFS estimated that women were a third more likely to be employed in sectors that were “shut down” over the first national lockdown, and thus particularly at risk of job loss. Add to this the HMRC statistics which show that in most countries and regions more women than men were furloughed.
However, it’s the shape of female employment which has had the most marked changes during the pandemic according to a report by the Resolution Foundation which showed that 74% of mothers of 0–3-year-olds were in the workforce in 2021 compared to 68% in 2019. Women now make up almost 48% of the workforce, up from 47% in 2019, and 48% in 1992. This is partly due to homeworking allowing some carers to work, partly due to second earners working more to offset labour market disruption experienced by partners, and partly due to sectoral shifts which, on balance, have favoured female-heavy sectors.
Louise Robinson, head of breakthrough, Santander said: “The impacts of the pandemic on the UK labour market are stark. What’s clear is that women are taking a greater role at work and there’s never been a more crucial time for us to be supporting them with tailored business mentoring. SMEs are crucial to the UK’s economic recovery and having strong, female business leaders at the helm of these companies will help them to not only revive but to thrive.”
Liz Dimmock, CEO, Moving Ahead said: “Even before the pandemic, just one in three British entrepreneurs were women, and the last two years have been the most challenging that many have ever faced. As we seek to close the gender gap in business, this structured mentoring programme unlocks the freedom for mentees to be ambitious, go for growth, and feel safe to share their experiences, setbacks and ideas. It provides mentors an opportunity to use their personal experience to champion talented business owners, while also challenging how their own organisation thinks about diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Vicky Whiter, owner at Peters’ Cleaners Ltd, was on the 2021 and programme and said: “The changes in me have been dramatic. In January and February 2021, the question was “Do I close?”, now I have a marketing director, a board, money in the bank and I’m sitting in a room about to go and talk about venture capital funding.”
The programme will cover a wide range of challenges faced by SMEs and entrepreneurs – from finding the right work/life balance, to entering new growth phases and even exporting products or services internationally. As part of the initiative Santander UK will provide each of the partnerships with tailored business support, through facilitated peer to peer sessions in response to the participants requests. Over the past two years, the Santander Breakthrough team has developed a large peer-to-peer network through this community, which has created knowledge sharing and provides a safe environment where business owners can share and reflect on challenges and successes.
Prospective mentors and mentees can apply online and the deadline for applications is close of business on Monday 14 February 2022. The programme itself will start at the end of March, once the mentors and mentees have been matched, and will run throughout the year.