DIVERSITY: THE SMART WAY TO ATTRACT FUTURE LEADERS
ISSUE NUMBER: TT133

Simon Kirby, Chief Executive, HS2

Too often, it seems to me that the rail industry is stuck in the past. One stark example is that the rail sector is not hiring or promoting enough women. As a result the industry is missing out on the skills and perspective of half the population. A recent report published by Women in Rail found that of the 87,000 people working in rail, only 13,500 are women – just 15%. Of those, half work in the operational, customer-facing parts of the railway, like catering, ticketing and station retail. Back office, engineering, maintenance and senior management are still very much the preserve of men.

To an outsider, it would seem shocking that only 4% of rail engineers are women. Yet this is what we've come to accept as the norm. That has to change – not just in the interests of women, but in the interests of the rail industry as a whole. A more diverse workforce would benefit the industry. The wider the range of skills and experience brought to bear on a problem, the better the decision will be.

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