This International Women’s Day 2018 we highlight the inspirational work of Inspire, our employee network for 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.
Above: Grace Bannon, Inspire vice chair
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.
“How I’m pressing for progress on International Women’s Day and beyond”: an inspiring story
Gender on the agenda
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.
Above: Jo Bywater, Inspire communications lead
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.
Men as Allies
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.
Above: Bern Fanning, Inspire Allies lead