Guest blog: Progress on our diversity journey

On International Women's Day, we hear from Helen Easton, Director of People and Culture at Darlington Building Society, who shares the Society's aim to be fully representative of the population and members they serve.

On International Women’s Day last year, we made a declaration to work towards becoming a signatory of the Women in Finance Charter. 

The Charter is a HM Treasury initiative to help more women into senior finance roles by focusing on executive succession planning and mid-tier management. Financial organisations which sign the Charter are required to report publicly on their progress to meet internal targets.

At Darlington Building Society, we aim to be fully representative of the population and members we serve. In the last year we have made significant progress in all areas of equality, diversity and inclusion and were delighted to have signed the Women in Finance Charter in September 2023. This is our public commitment to show that we consider diversity to be fundamentally important.

Our overall objective is for 50 per cent of senior leadership positions to be filled by women, with the proportion increasing from the current 36 per cent to 45 per cent by May 2025.

An example of how we are working to achieve this is our Women’s Network. The Network, made up of senior female leaders and non-executive board directors, is already proving to be successful with a huge lift in confidence among its membership. 

Our focus isn’t limited to gender diversity, we aim to be fully representative of the members we serve, whether that’s ethnicity, disability, age or gender. It’s about how we treat our team and value all forms of diversity, not just physical characteristics, but also people’s backgrounds and social mobility too. 

We have introduced many actions to progress our diversity journey, including:

  • Launching an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion section on the Society’s website
  • Becoming a Disability Committed organisation, while working towards being Disability Confident by next year.
  • Creating a quiet area for faith groups and neurodivergent colleagues.
  • Working with 55/Redefined to give more employment opportunities to the over-50s, with that commitment being incorporated into our recruitment strategy.
  • Introducing a leadership programme for senior management, inclusivity as a key focus.
  • Training recruiting  managers on conscious and unconscious bias & inclusion
  • Training board members on inclusive leadership.
  • Participating in the 2023 Social Mobility Employer Index Survey.

I’m delighted, and proud, of the significant progress that we have already made, but there’s still lots to do. We will continue looking at every aspect of the organisation, so that everyone in the Society comes to work knowing they can be themselves, and feel comfortable irrespective of their differences.

Find out more: Darlington Building Society