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Network Rail: Building a movement for culture change

Category: Employer Focus, Network, Movement

Network Rail: Building a movement for culture change

Building a movement for culture change

On the 25th of July our first three staff networks were officially launched at an event at Westwood attended by around 100 people. Speakers included Loraine Martins, director of diversity and inclusion, Richard Doyle, director of human resources, David Higgins, chief executive and Laily Thompson, HR Equality and Inclusion Manager for Transport for London (TfL).

Building a movement

There were presentations from each of our three staff networks, an interactive role-playing session with drama group Steps and table discussions highlighting 'what good looks like' in terms of success for the staff networks at Network Rail.

David Higgins said: "We are at the start of introducing a culture change, which takes years.  These support groups will help us get there.  My experience working in four different continents and 10 different countries has shown that the best performing, most resilient organisations are the ones that are open, inclusive and willing to challenge.  This must be at the very heart of everything we do."

Richard Doyle added: "Everything we are doing around safety leadership, our behaviours, transparency, diversity and inclusion is linked. None of these initiatives exist in isolation. They are all part of the culture change movement."

Introducing the networks

Babak Erfani, acting project manager, spoke on behalf of Archway, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) network. Babak said: "I passionately believe that becoming a more diverse, open and transparent organisation will support Network Rail's plans to deliver for CP5 and beyond. By launching the Archway network we will help to create an inclusive culture for all, that supports existing staff and attracts the best people to join our business."

Carol Ingram, scheme project manager, spoke on behalf of the women's network, which has yet to choose an official name. "I am often asked what it's like to work in a male-dominated environment - evidently this is the perception of Network Rail as an employer. I would like to take my own experience as a good example of how I've been treated and share that with others, to help remove any perceived barriers to career advancement within our organisation. We want to proactively promote Network Rail as an employer of choice with opportunities for all."

Cindy Wedderburn, systems integration manager, spoke on behalf of Cultural Fusion, the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) network: "My hope is for the Cultural Fusion Network to enable every BAME employee to recognise their own opportunities for development and to help remove any barriers to them achieving their full potential. I have had 34 years positive experience of being a black woman in a predominantly white male culture and I'd like to help others to have this same experience."

Learning from our partners

Laily Thompson, HR Equality and Inclusion Manager for TfL, shared her experiences in setting up similar staff networks. "At TfL our main purpose is to deliver a service to the travelling public. But we need to do this while creating a welcoming, inclusive environment. Our staff networks, which we launched in 2006, have helped us to ensure we reflect and understand the communities we serve.

Babak Erfani, acting project manager, spoke on behalf of Archway, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) network. Babak said: "I passionately believe that becoming a more diverse, open and transparent organisation will support Network Rail's plans to deliver for CP5 and beyond. By launching the Archway network we will help to create an inclusive culture for all, that supports existing staff and attracts the best people to join our business."

Carol Ingram, scheme project manager, spoke on behalf of the women's network, which has yet to choose an official name. "I am often asked what it's like to work in a male-dominated environment - evidently this is the perception of Network Rail as an employer. I would like to take my own experience as a good example of how I've been treated and share that with others, to help remove any perceived barriers to career advancement within our organisation. We want to proactively promote Network Rail as an employer of choice with opportunities for all."

Cindy Wedderburn, systems integration manager, spoke on behalf of Cultural Fusion, the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) network: "My hope is for the Cultural Fusion Network to enable every BAME employee to recognise their own opportunities for development and to help remove any barriers to them achieving their full potential. I have had 34 years positive experience of being a black woman in a predominantly white male culture and I'd like to help others to have this same experience."

Learning from our partners

Laily Thompson, HR Equality and Inclusion Manager for TfL, shared her experiences in setting up similar staff networks. "At TfL our main purpose is to deliver a service to the travelling public. But we need to do this while creating a welcoming, inclusive environment. Our staff networks, which we launched in 2006, have helped us to ensure we reflect and understand the communities we serve.

All TfL staff are welcome to belong to all the staff networks unless they choose to opt out. And we encourage everyone to attend at least one meeting whether they actively 'identify' with that group's characteristics or not.

There's a lot to be learned from collaboration which is why we're so pleased to be here today and speaking with one of our partners about diversity and inclusion."

Followers sustain change

Loraine Martins, in the context of building a movement, emphasised the importance of followers in sustaining a culture change. She said: "Following can, in some situations be more powerful than leading. By being one of the 'first followers' the staff networks are giving others courage to follow, too and build a movement. This is how you sustain the culture change we want."

Interested in a career with Network Rail, please click here!

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