Santander Totta to set aside €22.5M for new arts, social foundation

  • Lusa
  • 23 November 2021

"Santander Portugal will create a foundation with the purpose of developing programmes with high social, economic and environmental impact," the bank announced in a statement.

Santander Totta, the Portuguese unit of Spain’s Banco Santander, is to set aside €22.5 million to create a foundation that is to undertake projects “with high social, economic and environmental impact,” the bank has announced.

“Santander Portugal will create a foundation with the purpose of developing programmes with high social, economic and environmental impact,” it said in a statement. “With an initial allocation of €22.5 million, the Santander Portugal Foundation will intervene in the education, employability, ecology and social areas.”

According to the bank, the foundation will contribute “to help people and companies to progress in a fair, inclusive and sustainable way.”

It named Inês Oom de Sousa as the person who would lead the new project as well as taking the position of head of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) in the Santander Group at European level. Inês Oom de Sousa is a board member who has worked at the bank for 25 years, and is currently in charge of the areas of Responsible Banking and Universities.

According to Santander Totta, “the bank’s projects aimed at society in these areas will now be carried out by the foundation, which will be set up in the short term.” It will also “manage the artistic and cultural heritage of the bank [and] allow the work focused on society to be streamlined and ensure greater public recognition of the role played in the communities.”

The statement quotes Oom de Sousa as said that the bank wants “to leave our mark on society, to be recognised by our clients and employees as an institution that has an impact and truly cares about society … that cares about reducing social and economic inequalities and contributing to a more inclusive community.”

Santander’s profits in Portugal in the first nine months of this year were down 32% a year earlier to €172.2 million, it announced on October 27.

The bank has been implementing a mass redundancy scheme, seeking the departure of 685 workers, 145 of them the target of collective dismissal, with the remainder leaving by agreement – early retirement and termination by mutual agreement – according to data from unions and the bank.

In recent months, during the restructuring processes of Santander and rival bank BCP, trade unions have accused them of labour repression and blackmail, saying that they are forcing employees to accept redundancy while making high profits.

An official source at Santander Totta told Lusa in October that the bank continues to “want to favour agreement solutions” for its planned workforce cuts, even for those receiving letters of dismissal and that, for this reason, accompanying the letter was a simulation of how much the person would receive in collective dismissal and how much if they reached an agreement.

On October 1, workers at BCP and Santander went on strike against redundancies, in the first such nationwide action by bank workers since 1988.