Declan O’Gorman of NatWest on being the change

O’Gorman recently won the Male Agent of Change Award at the 2023 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards, celebrating men making a difference.

natwest male agent of change


Declan O’Gorman is Head of Enterprise Engineering at NatWest Group. As the leader of NatWest Groups’ Engineering team, O’Gorman enables tens of millions of customers to engage with the bank where and when they want. He is passionate about seeking new ways to diversify, upskill and excite people about roles in technology. He co-sponsors the NatWest technology gender-balanced initiatives and Women in Technology Employee-Led Network, as well as sitting on the TechSheCan steering committee, Business in the Community Gender Leadership Team and a number of industry awards panels.

What made you start wanting to make these changes at NatWest?

I’ve been lucky in my career to benefit from some amazing female line managers, mentors and peers who I’ve learnt a lot from, and as a father of young girls its been eye opening how quickly and firmly cultural stereotypes embed at an early age – something I’m keen we continue to lean into and address.

Natwest is an incredibly inclusive working environment, but we encounter similar challenges to fair representation in our technical workforce as others in industry are doing – it means we risk developing solutions for customers and colleagues that don’t take advantage of the best ideas out there, or talk to the diverse needs and experiences our millions of customers.

How did you find this initially, talking to your managers and the higher-ups and getting people to DO something rather than just talk about it?

Change often requires a call to action, we were fortunate that the Natwest culture already understands and intrinsically values inclusion and diversity (e.g. one of only 9 FTSE 100 companies with a female CEO & only major bank) and with the addition of some incredibly supportive change agents across the business the drive for change was set.

We’ve changed our hiring processes (launching a new bank-wide recruitment yes-check increasing the diversity of interview panels and short lists, which includes mandatory training and the use of independent Inclusion Interview Ambassadors), we ensure DEI is a consideration in organisational design, e.g., having a diverse group of people leading the change and have a continued focus on behavioural change and creating psychological safety through ongoing learning and education.  We have standardised our diversity reporting approach for department leads to track progress, signed up to new external charters (e.g. TechTalentCharter), invested in new charity partnerships (e.g. TechSheCan) & supported our staff building external brand with industry recognisable awards. All of which has been supported and championed by the organisation and led by a senior steering group of leaders visibly role modelling their support and commitment for this agenda.

declan o'gorman natwest

What’s the biggest change you can see since you’ve been doing what you’re doing?

The embedding of our diversity metrics in the business as usual operation of different business departments and teams has been a really good indicator of how this is increasingly being seen as a critical and standardised way we do business – this has led to an evidencable and material increase in the % of female software engineers at Natwest for example. The bank has also continued to go much further with these topics including for example announcing our new enhanced Partner Leave policies  (allowing both parents of a child to take the same amount of paid time away).

What impact have you seen on kids of people within the company?

I’ve been keen to connect and support the next generation coming through as part of our drive to increase access to well paying roles – especially in our technology teams. Its been brilliant to see some of the resources we’ve co-created with TechSheCan – including the animated lesson on how cashless payments work being used by schools, parents and kids to help describe the positive societal impact these roles can have, and ensure people can see a future for themselves in these workplaces.

My own kids for example have been interested to learn with their Rooster account how the technology behind those experiences is really put together!

What do you think is the most important thing to do moving forward?

I think we all aspire to a future where we no longer need to put focus on these topics and equal access to roles & opportunities at all ages is present. Until we get there however its important that we all remain curious and aware of the communities and teams we operate in – and our part to shine a light on any inequality, to provide an opportunity for others and to challenge & change our processes if they aren’t working for us.

Read more:

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