Diversity, equity & inclusion

Hear from Oliver Holbourn - our exec sponsor for disability

We were proud to sponsor the Business Disability Forum’s recent Back to the Future conference. Hear from Oliver Holbourn, CEO of RBS International and our exec sponsor for disability, on what we’re doing at NatWest Group to move the dial.

I’m extremely passionate about NatWest reaching its ambition of being an accessible bank by design

This year marked the first time that NatWest Group sponsored a Business Disability Forum conference – something I’m very proud of. The way that the Business Disability Forum is leading the disability inclusion debate in business is simply brilliant.

Let me start with a little about me. I have been the sponsor of Enable; NatWest Group’s employee-led network for colleagues and customers with impairments and disabilities, for the past three years.

I am the parent of two neuro-diverse kids and I have a back condition that I have had since my mid 20s which makes me feel like a human yo-yo with the permanent fidgets.

And I’m extremely passionate about NatWest reaching its ambition of being an accessible bank by design, by which I mean a bank where everyone asks themselves whether the customer or colleague journey that they are a part of thinks first about whether everyone can access that journey in an easy, fair, and safe way.


How we’re moving the dial

Our purpose is to help people, families and businesses to thrive, so we have an opportunity to make a difference with the 19 million customers we serve, and the colleagues we work with.

Here are some things we’re doing at NatWest Group to help move the dial:

Show by your actions that you care. Last year we changed our carers leave policy (4 weeks unpaid every year) and allowed that leave to be taken a day at a time rather than in blocks.

Keep our customer journeys front-of-mind. We’re always looking for ways to make our customers’ experiences accessible. For example, we’re giving customers more control over how they interact with our Chatbot Cora by allowing them to change the speed of interaction with Cora or alter the font size of the chat to make it easier to read what Cora’s writing. We’re also always reviewing our mobile apps and updating them to help us become more accessible.

Talk to lots of people and borrow ideas with pride. It was by talking to Microsoft about whether education should be mandatory and the pros and cons that led us to create a new learning module on disability and drop it into our colleagues’ learning journey. Currently 38k colleagues have completed the learning.

Share stories. They are such powerful drivers for change. When one of most senior data and technology colleagues self-disclosed as neuro-diverse the debate changed around neurodivergent colleagues, and partly due to that and the passion of our colleagues, we now have a sister employee network called the Neuro Diversity Alliance with 700 members.

Embrace people’s passion. We have a lot of people with a passion in our organisation and we’ve embraced that to build a coalition. We have 2,500 members Enable, and we spend time during key points of the year, for example Global Accessibility Awareness Day and International Day of Persons with Disability, to engage others and bring them on-board.


We know though, that there is so much more we can and need to do before we meet out ambition to be an accessible bank by design. And we’re committed to keep trying to be a little better and more accessible every day.

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