Virgin Money and the Purpose Coalition have launched a report assessing the Bank's current impact on levelling up across the country.
The Levelling Up Impact Report benchmarks Virgin Money’s work against an innovative set of 14 Levelling Up Goals. It identifies the areas where Virgin Money is already making a positive impact and makes recommendations on the areas in which it can do even more.
Launched in 2021, the Goals provide a framework for organisations to identify gaps in access to opportunity, covering key life stages from early years to adulthood, as well as the main areas where barriers may exist that prevent people from achieving their potential, for example good health and wellbeing or digital connectivity. They also provide the means to benchmark progress going forward.
Last year Virgin Money launched its purpose-driven employment package ‘A Life More Virgin’ which offers location-less and flexible working as well as equal family leave, five extra wellbeing days a year on top of 30 days holiday and up to 13% pension contributions.
The Purpose Coalition’s report highlights Virgin Money’s key strengths which underline its commitment to delivering opportunity country-wide. It focuses on its achievements on meeting three Goals in particular, although its work also has impact on several others.
Goal 7 Widening access to savings and credit: Virgin Money introduced the M account, a basic bank account which, through innovative product design and delivery, provides the tools to help customers manage their money better. It also has a range of initiatives which help tackle the poverty premium, currently paid by about one fifth of the population.
Goal 8 Good health and wellbeing: Virgin Money sees the health and wellbeing of its staff as intrinsic to its business offering, with the support of their financial wellbeing a key part of that. Flexible working is seen as a critical element in ensuring that opportunities are accessible to everyone and its principal initiative, A Life More Virgin, has introduced a purpose-led approach to flexible working which is helping to build a more inclusive workforce.
Goal 14 Achieve equality through diversity and inclusion: Virgin Money acknowledges that not everyone has the same opportunities or starts their career from the same starting point and so addresses the systemic barriers to access. Closely aligned to its approach to flexible working, its equality, diversity and inclusion strategy provides a range of key support mechanisms, such as gender-neutral parental leave and statutory sick pay, to ensure that its workforce can be as diverse as possible.
As well as highlighting these key strengths, the report outlines recommendations for further action so that Virgin Money can work with policy makers, as well as its staff and customers, to provide solutions that will encourage financial inclusion in the short term against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis. It can also extend its role in political and public debate to shape the levelling up agenda in the longer term.
James Peirson, Virgin Money’s General Counsel and Purpose Officer, said: “Purpose is and must remain our north star and by acting on the good challenges made by the Purpose Coalition in their report, we’ll continue to make our customers, colleagues and communities happier about money while building a truly great place to work.”
Chair of the Purpose Coalition, Rt Hon Justine Greening, said:“I’m delighted to be launching Virgin Money’s Levelling Up Impact Report today with its General Counsel and Purpose Officer, James Peirson. If a person can’t access capital or credit, then it’s likely that they also can’t access opportunity. Sound personal and household finances are fundamental to getting on in life. For too long in the financial services landscape, it was significantly easier to get into debt than it was to set money aside. Many of the financial products on offer were too complex to be of use to most people. These are the key challenges that Virgin Money is helping to address, making financial stability more achievable for more customers in the process.
“Financial inclusion is fundamental to the levelling up agenda and Virgin Money is showing what is possible in the financial services sector to make a positive and tangible difference. Using its unique and creative approach, it has sewn a levelling up thread into every aspect of its business, not as an add-on but as an intrinsic element that is essential to its success. With its brand recognition and geographic reach, there is huge potential for it to make an even greater contribution. As the country faces an increasing cost of living crisis that will bring even greater financial pressures, its determination to bear down on costs for those struggling alongside its plans to embrace further organisational change, the company can embed and accelerate the mission it has set itself - to make people happier about money.”
Chair of the Purpose Business Coalition, Lord Walney said:“I’m proud to have worked with Virgin Money to develop the Levelling Up Impact Report we have launched in Westminster today. It clearly demonstrates how a purpose-led business leads by its actions and, as a result, makes a significant positive impact on its customers, its employees and the communities it serves.
“Society now expects higher standards from the organisations they work for or do business with. With its focus on the health and wellbeing of its staff so they can operate at their best and the comprehensive approach that is A Life More Virgin, Virgin Money has shown that it understands that these things also make it a better business. It is more attractive to potential recruits and more inclusive for its staff. That will pay off in terms not just of motivation and loyalty but of profitability. It makes good business sense.
“Other businesses can learn from Virgin Money’s work and the best practice that is encapsulated in this report. I hope that the recommendations for future action will see it exploring even more options for the social good it can achieve and the positive examples that it can set.”
The full report is available here:Levelling up impact report PDF, 6.1MB