Closing the Gender Gap:

The Alcanza Plan: High potential programmes at 3 decisive stages of the career

gender parity
Company name:
Banco Santander
Banking & Capital Markets
More than 50,000
Europe & Central Asia
Contact Position:
Responsible for Gender Diversity
Contact company representative

The Gap:

Type of Gap: senior management level

Banco Santander S.A. is a well balanced Company concerning gender diversity, 54% of our employees are women. Nevertheless, our dashboard shows that the distribution is not homogeneus across the Organization. 

Our gender gap is at the top management level.

The Practice:

Type of practice: Mentorship & training

We put on 3 special programmes to identify and develop female talent within the organization. Each programme is addressed to a different moment in their career:

  • Enganchate ('Seize') - for new generations, to awaken their professional ambition.
  • Impulsa ('Drive') – for women in middle management positions to help them keep on track and avoid their giving up.
  • Supera ('Exceed') – for those women already in senior positions, to give them more visibility and help them reach higher. 

Progress through the 3 stages of the programme is specific for each individual:

The original idea is that those women participating in "enganchate" could be participanting in "impulsa" 2 or 3 years later and in "supera" 5 or 6 years later - in parallel with their promotions to the appropriate levels. In all cases, participating women receive special guidance and support from an internal mentor during the whole year each stage runs. They attend presentation training and meet with top executives. After a stage has been completed, those women who have shown the most promise are provided with an individual development plan, and their career progress is monitored over the following years. They also get preferential participation in any of the development programmes we offer in the Group - be they programmes targetted specifically at women or not.  

Most women continue their relationship with their internal mentors long after the one year mentoring process has finished, as these relationships offer them the opportunity to interact with top managers of the Group (some of the mentors are General Managers, Heads of Areas and Divisions, etc.). As an example of the follow up and development plans, some of the participants from the 1st and 2nd edition have been offered to participate in the Multinational MBA of Deusto Business School and the Advanced Management Programme of ESADE Business School. Others are being presented as candidates to participate in other development programmes at a corporate level for next year.


We take into account: 

  • The results of the evaluation of each programme and the mentoring sessions.
  • The number of participants that get promoted or change any of their professional conditions (function, title, salary, management level, etc.).
  • The number of participants that continue their development through other high potential programmes.

Implementation Date:

Introduced 1 year ago, we plan to keep these programmes in place at least for another 3 years

The Success:

Although it is still too early to see major changes, the programmes have been very successful and have been evaluated at an average of 8,5 over 10. Further metrics: 

  • 36% of last year's participants changed their position
  • 28,4% increased their management level
  • 38,1% had salary promotions 

(information as of August 2011)

Success factors:

  1. Support from the CEO and the HR General Director
  2. Participants’ ambition and willingness to grow professionally
  3. Deep implication of the mentors


  1. Resistance of some women to women-only activities
  2. Some people in the Organization do not see the need to implement these kind of actions


Coaching / Mentoring|Education|Individual Support|Monitoring|Performance Management|Talent Management
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