RTM365: Creating a more diverse workforce

“If we haven’t got that line of sight, then we’re not going to make any progress” was the key message from Network Rail’s Director of Diversity, Loraine Martins OBE, at RTM365’s Recruiting a Diverse Workforce leaders’ debate.

Hosted by Helen Fospero, Lorraine was joined on the panel by the founder of Women in Rail, Adeline Ginn MBE and VolkerRail’s Director of Major Projects, Stuart Birch.

In the discussion, Adeline said  “diversity is a fact of the life in the UK, it’s modern Britain” and said the industry cannot embrace the diversity of its customer base without a diverse workforce.

Stuart spoke about VolkerRail’s diversity journey and said that in 2016 he decided “we really needed to get on that journey” in order to stay the supplier of choice.

As well as this, he said the company sponsor and promote steering groups, have introduced diverse leadership training and roundtables, as well as launching online live debates.

He said they take a firmer line in setting strategic targets, have unconscious bias in interviews and said that the additional awareness is making a difference, saying they are now in the top 10 most inclusive employers across the industry.

Commenting, Stuart said: “Our key message remains that we're focused on building an inclusive environment for everyone.”

Lorraine stressed the point that not enough companies in the rail industry has a proper strategy and many are in fear of doing the wrong thing and offending people.

She said:
“I think not enough of us have a proper strategy. We're feeling our way around and not aligned EDI to the business. That strategic approach, for me, is really important.”

She acknowledged that different businesses are getting bits of it right though, such as HS2 under Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Mark Lomas.

Adeline said that companies engaging in a diverse workforce is not just about fairness, but about better decision-making where everyone feels welcome and can be themselves.

Her message was that not one size fits all when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion and acknowledged the hard work of organisations.

Commenting, she said: “Over 160 organisations have already signed up to EDI Charter, so it is showing the desire in rail.

“What we need is companies to follow up on the charter commitments and follow through on them and it's about celebrating the successes.”



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