Latest Rail News

27.02.15

NR to tackle gender imbalance by shortlisting qualified women for jobs

The boss of Network Rail has called for an end to the “macho” culture on the railways, and says he will be introducing plans to make sure any qualified woman is shortlisted for available posts. 

Mark Carne added that a more diverse workforce will be critical to the success of Network Rail and the sector as a whole. 

“There is now a proven correlation, across multiple sectors and geographies, between diversity and inclusion on the one hand, and innovation and high performance on the other,” he said in a speech at the Institution of Engineering and Technology this week. 

At Network Rail, women now make up 14% of the workforce, but Carne says he will introduce measures to improve this. 

This includes a commitment to make sure any qualified woman is shortlisted for available posts, and that they get extra career development plans and mentoring. 

Adeline Ginn, founder of Women in Rail, told RTM that whilst the rail sector has traditionally found it difficult to attract more women to the sector, it has begun to make great strides in tackling its historic gender imbalance. 

“Numerous rail bodies and associations already understand that for the sector to continue to thrive, it needs to ensure that women play an increasing role, and I am sure that we will begin to see real change in the coming years,” she said. 

Network Rail is already one of 20 major companies signed up to the WISE (Women into Science and Engineering) challenge. It has started rolling out the 10-point plan, which is a pledge to: 

  1. understand the starting point and put plans in place to improve performance and monitor progress
  2. educate leaders and give them accountability for change
  3. change mind-sets by challenging bias and sexism
  4. be creative in job design
  5. make flexible working a reality for all
  6. increase transparency of opportunities for progression
  7. sponsor talented women, giving the same exposure as men and support to develop their career
  8. demonstrate to women that we want to retain them through career breaks and beyond
  9. treat the retention of women as we would any other issue affecting our core business
  10. share learning and good practice with our industry partners 

Carne said: “We still have what many would describe as a macho culture within the company.” 

Going forward, he added that the company will be taking “big steps” to increase the attractiveness of Network Rail to minority groups. 

“Diversity and inclusion aren’t just nice-to-haves,” Carne said. “They are powerful tools to help any organisation improve its performance.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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