First published in Society Matters magazine, by Claire Tracey, Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer, Nationwide Building Society
Nationwide was founded with a strong social purpose - to help people to save for a home of their own. Today, we are a mutual Society, owned by our 16 million members, and we remain driven by that same purpose - building society nationwide. We express this through Five Mutual Good commitments, embedded in everything we do.
1. Helping to achieve safe and secure homes for all
We believe everyone should have a place fit to call home. We are particularly focused on helping first time buyers, through market-leading initiatives such as our Helping Hand and 95% loan-to-value mortgages. We also help our members use the equity in their homes to live better in retirement, addressing a growing societal need as the first high street provider to offer a comprehensive range of later life mortgages.
We want to create a private rented sector that works for the mutual good of tenants and landlords, including through our buy-to-let arm TMW and our landlord educational website, Landlord Lifeguard.
2. Leading the greening of UK homes
We all need to work towards a low carbon future. Nationwide is a pioneer here. We already will not lend to businesses with a negative environmental impact, like fossil fuels. Our business operations have been carbon neutral since 2020, and we aim for our suppliers and commuting to be carbon neutral by 2030 too.
Housing creates around 15% of UK carbon emissions , so we have a vital role in creating more sustainable homes. We have set aside £1 billion to help our members improve the energy efficiency of their homes. We are members of the Net Zero Banking Alliance and we campaign for positive government policies on Green Homes.
3. Supporting our members' financial wellbeing
Our ambition is to support our members to become financially secure. We help financially squeezed members to become regular savers, including through our PayDay SaveDay campaign and Start to Save accounts. Together with Fair By Design, we are also investing in business start-ups that tackle the poverty premium (where those on lower incomes are forced to pay more for essential goods and services).
4. Championing thriving communities
We know that many of our members continue to value our branches. That's why, whilst competitors are making wholesale branch closures, we have committed to local communities making a Branch Promise: to remain in every town or city we are in today untl at least 2023.
In addition, as voted for by our members, we give at least 1% of our pre-tax profits to local community good causes every year, focused on housing.
5. Internally reflecting the diversity of our society
We want to build an inclusive culture at Nationwide where everyone can thrive, and we aspire to reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. This will help us better support our members: by increasing innovation, driving better decision making and boosting performance.
For Nationwide, our social purpose is therefore fundamental. And to make sure that we focus on these five Mutual Good Commitments in everything we do, we track our performance against them and publish the results, so our members can see if we are delivering.
We hope this will drive meaningful change for our millions of members – and continue to fulfil the purpose of our founders: building society – nationwide.
Find out more about Nationwide's approach to responsible business here