Welcome to VERCIDA website.Skip to main content
Category: Gender Equality
Inspire presses for progress on creating a fair and supportive working environment for people of all genders at Network Rail.
Set up in 2014, its founding aims were to support other women in Network Rail and help encourage women to see the organisation as an employer of choice.
These continue to be an important part of what it does today, but as the network has grown, it has developed a wider focus to support Network Rail’s objectives for safety and culture. Inspire now champions, for example, the provision of inclusive facilities in the workplace, an inclusive culture and career development opportunities for women.
It is itself a network of networks, with local groups across the country holding events and promoting nationwide initiatives such as the WISE Campaign’s People Like Me (an in-schools programme where volunteers from businesses help inspire girls to continue with STEM subjects), and Women In Rail events or programmes, such as its popular mentoring scheme and discussion panels.
This International Women’s Day the network is hosting a number of events within Network Rail featuring inspirational speakers from inside and outside the business. These include Anna Delvecchio, commercial account director at Amey and Women in Rail South representative and Sarah Churchman, chief inclusion, community and wellbeing officer at PwC, as well as Network Rail’s chief executive Mark Carne.
Inspire is supported in its aims by an increasing focus on gender equality within the wider business. By engaging with the chief executive and other groups within Network Rail to press for a more inclusive and diverse culture, the network has helped to shape this.
It’s a reciprocal relationship. The Inspire network actively supports initiatives from the Diversity and Inclusion team to drive Network Rail’s commitment to be a more diverse and inclusive organisation. The launch of Inspire Allies last year is one way the network is trying to help achieve this.
Network Rail recognises that gender diversity and equality will not be achieved without men helping to facilitate a culture change. With male membership of Inspire relatively low, the Inspire team set about to change its perception by engaging men to help make Network Rail a more inclusive workplace and an employer of choice for women.
Inspire Allies was launched in September 2017, actively appealing to men to get involved and share their thoughts. Since then the number of men supporting Inspire has grown by more than 50 per cent and looks set to increase further, although there is still a way to go before numbers are more representative of the business.
Inspire Allies promotes flexible working, shared parental leave and paternity leave, and challenges behaviours that get in the way of the business being open, diverse and inclusive.
Allies are asked to make commitments to ways in which they can help with gender equality in the workplace, from specific ways to raise awareness and support an inclusive culture, to how they can ensure inclusive recruitment and interviews and support mentoring and coaching.
I joined Inspire Allies because I wanted to play my part in supporting all of our colleagues to be the best that they can be. We know that people are happier and teams are more productive when every single person can be themselves at work every single day - we don't want our people forced to change their behaviours to match and conform to the stereotypes already in place, which for the railway industry is people like me - old, white men. Supporting gender diversity is part of building a wider culture that treats all our people with dignity and with the respect each of us deserves as individuals. Because gender equality isn’t just a ‘women’s issue’ and it’s time to stop thinking that the responsibility rests solely on women to change their working environment. Gender diversity is something to be supported in our business and I want to see the change to gender parity at Network Rail. We want to reflect the society we live in and the customers we serve through the diversity of our people because that will let us do a better job at delivering a vital public service.
The launch of the Allies is a significant step, but Inspire has seen progress on other fronts, with membership rising. In 2017, Inspire also launched its own mentoring programme and a career development day.
During the development day, women from across the business attended to learn useful skills to progress their career, including public speaking, networking, assertiveness, mentoring and career planning. Such professional effectiveness skills are integral to career progression but are often overlooked. Chief executive Mark Carne also gave a presentation about the importance of gender balance in the workplace. The event’s success has ensured that similar will be planned for the future, at both a local and a national level.
Only 16 per cent of Network Rail’s employees are women. Network Rail’s commitment to become a more diverse and inclusive organisation is set out in the Everyone strategy and, more recently, its Strategic Business Plan, looking ahead to the years between 2019 and 2024:
We want to create an environment that will allow everybody to reach their full potential, and we are leading the way in moving the rail industry to become more diverse and inclusive. By the end of CP6 [2019-2024] we aim to increase the number of women in our business by 50 per cent, and have gender balanced recruitment of apprentices and graduates. Diverse teams perform better.