Nationwide COO Tony Prestedge spoke up on the benefits of having a workforce that wasn't "pale, male and stale" after the building society was acknowledged for its dedication to diversity.

The British mutual, which withdrew its Facebook advertising in May in response to appearing next to ads promoting domestic violence, will sponsor Opportunity Now's Awards for Excellence, which recognise organisations that have put gender at the core of their business agendas and are committed to creating inclusive workplaces at all levels.

Prestedge, who is overseeing a technology transformation programme at Nationwide and spoke to CIO magazine last year about why he has no CIO, said: "Having a diverse workforce is incredibly important - we don't want to be pale, male and stale.

"But it cannot be about just ticking boxes. Hiring more women must be about appointing those who are the best candidates for the job, while the right candidates need to be identified for promotion opportunities.

"And there's no shortage of them - the vast majority of our workforce are women," he said.

Indeed, around 67 per cent or Nationwide's workforce is female, while 63 per cent of the managers are women - a figure double the average in the financial services sector.

Opportunity Now, a campaign to increase women's success at work, is run by the Business in the Community charity.

Prestedge added: "Being involved with Opportunity Now is a fantastic coup as it not only enables us to showcase best practice to the industry, but provides the corporate backing that this issue desperately needs for change to be implemented."