Archway, one of our biggest employee networks, is celebrating LGBT History Month.
We’re proud to be an inclusive employer. Archway, our lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) employee network, is one of six such membership organisations at Network Rail.
It gives people the chance to influence policy making across Network Rail and the opportunity to meet colleagues in a more social atmosphere through events and talks around Britain.
Archway’s membership now stands at about 500, with 125 new members joining last year – the highest rate of growth in its five-year history.
It’s not just for Network Rail employees, however. People from train operating companies, our supply chain and industry body Rail Delivery Group can also join.
LGBT History Month
LGBT History Month
Taking part in LGBT History Month, which promotes equality and diversity throughout February, is important to Archway.
Babak Erfani, who has served as chair of Archway, said: “There’s often a perception in society that LGBT people have all the rights they need and there are no issues out there. It’s only when we’re talking about our past that we think about issues that still exist in the present.”
Archway’s members have previously marked LGBT History Month with a visit to Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, to learn more about the enormous influence of mathematician Alan Turing and reflect on his treatment as a gay man by the state after WW2.
Babak said: “It should be in our collective memory but it quickly fades. There’s an importance in making people realise laws have changed but society fundamentally can be problematic for LGBT people. We do need to talk about these things because they do have an impact on people at work.”
Best LGBT network
Archway was founded in 2013. In 2017 it was named the top LGBT+ employee network in Britain for improving the lives of LGBT people at the British LGBT awards.
Influencing positive change
In 2017, Archway launched its first conference, Building LGBT Inclusive Workplaces. The event was part of an Archway campaign to drive LGBT inclusion in all our workplaces, from depots to engineering yards and track-side to corporate offices. It featured seminars, workshops, a Q&A and presentations hosted by external leaders in LGBT inclusion as well as from Network Rail and the wider rail industry.
Archway recognises that forming allies – colleagues outside the LGBT community – is an effective way to influence positive change. Its new allies training programme is an industry first that aims to help more colleagues understand how they can support LGBT people in the workplace.
Babak hopes that in Control Period 6 – Network Rail’s next five-year budget and planning period, which starts in April – the training will become standard.
He said: “Our role is to create the atmosphere, create the conditions, get the right stuff in place for training so our allies can be empowered and the people who will make a difference are cisgender and straight. Having it recognised as a proper course is recognition of that inclusion.”
The wellbeing of colleagues is of vital importance to Archway and the simple steps we can take – from opportunities to include gender neutral bathroom facilities, training and support for managers, updated graphics and artwork and provision of more information and guidance on harassment, bullying and issues specific to the LGBT community – will help us improve working conditions for everyone.
Babak Erfani, commercial scheme sponsor and chair of Archway