Words by Ana Botín, President of the Santander banking group

THE first woman to run a major European bank, Ana has been ranked 8th on the Forbes’ list of World’s Most Powerful Women and was also made an honorary dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 for services to the financial industry. 

Ana is adamant there will be no discrepancy in salaries between male and female staff members taking on equal responsibility in a banking institution that is ranked 16th in the world and has recently introduced a work/life policy

 “I have spent years as an executive; years in which I have seen enough to know that in general women don’t get a fair deal. In a speech delivered to a room full of men in Bilbao in 2008, I talked about the importance of women acting with more confidence in ourselves and that we needed to change the work culture and in doing so society if we wanted to see advances in the field of equality. 

“Since then these ideas have been reflected in the equal opportunity policies that we first pushed for in Banesto, then in Santander in the UK and more recently in the Santander group as a whole,”. In that speech I emphasised the benefits of diversity in the company. And with data from different studies, I explained that having more women in managerial positions, apart from being fair, was good for business. Besides talent, women bring skills to business that complement those of men – better interpersonal communication, cooperation, horizontal thinking and a capacity to really listen as well as more empathy and the ability to prioritise.”

“Still today, one of the keys to equal opportunities lies in domestic work. For men to increase their share of this responsibility, we need public policies that allow for greater flexibility in the workplace.”

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