Network Rail runs, maintains and develops Britain’s railways. From Cornwall to Glasgow, Cardiff to Newcastle and everywhere in between, we are involved in ambitious ventures across the UK. As the safest and fastest growing railway in Europe, we work hard to make sure that our 4.5 million passengers a day and our freight travel safely and on time. We are at the heart of developing a thriving, low carbon economy, where people, places and businesses are better connected. We have 38,000 talented people from diverse backgrounds helping us be a safe, high performing, world-class business, equipped to build a better railway for a better Britain.
Network Rail has a ground-breaking and comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy called Everyone – which along with describing the business case, and aligning diversity and inclusion to the corporate business strategy, sets out the three themes access and inclusion; behaviours and benchmarks and collaboration, which are referred to as the ABCs. There is a strategic business objective to “build a more open, diverse and inclusive organisation”; and the everyone strategy contains an evidence base for the approach, along with the governance structure which oversees the delivery of the strategy. The level of this strategic approach to diversity and inclusion was fresh to Network Rail and the rail industry.
Network Rail’s diversity and inclusion team has six full-time people who have immense expertise and experience in diversity and inclusion.
The team set up six employee networks each with an Executive Committee (ExCom) sponsor. A first, for Network Rail, the employee networks actively helps to create a more inclusive culture, supports the improvement of our policies and programmes and are a valuable source for consultation. The networks have also reached out to other businesses and arranged collaborative events and initiatives. We now have 1700 members across: Archway, the LBGT+ employees; CanDo for disabled employees; Cultural Fusion for black, Asian and minority ethnic employees; Inspire for women; Myriad for carers and the Multi-faith network.
Another first for Network Rail was the introduction of diversity champions harnessing people who are committed and enthusiastic about diversity and inclusion. These individuals are given an induction and trained to manage a range of situations and to be role models.
Where the team has been particularly innovative is in the introduction of the principles of inclusive design to support the delivery of a more accessible railway. First we introduced the Built Environment Access Panel (BEAP) to provide expert technical and strategic advice to our project teams, particularly on major, challenging or contentious projects. The BEAP is made up of disabled people, some of whom are from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background; younger and older people and Inclusive Design experts.
Steeped in the social model of disability, we produced Spaces and Places for Everyone, our Inclusive Design Strategy, which sees the business now placing people at the heart of the design process. We supplemented this with a campaign film featuring the comedian Francesca Martinez, which was shown on Facebook and noise screens in our stations.
The team has introduced an annual diversity and inclusion week, called Everyone week, which is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the range of work undertaken across the business to support diversity and inclusion. Everyone week helps to drive culture change by demonstrating the benefits of diversity and inclusion and the breadth of work that different teams and functions are doing. The popularity of Everyone Week, the number of events (over 100 this year up and down the country) and the breadth of support indicate the great start we have made in improving our culture.
Underpinning these initiatives is a process introduced by the team called Diversity Impact Assessments (DIAs), which is a way of understanding the effect of our work on different groups.
To further support the business the team produces guidance for line managers, as we know they are key to ensuring that our people are treated fairly and included in our organisation. We created a series of ‘Everyone Guides’ targeted at line managers. The topics produced were chosen because of the type of questions and issues raised via our dedicated inbox. The guides are on reasonable adjustments and disability, religion, bullying, Ramadan and Transgender.
We are currently deploying Read & Write Gold software across the business to support staff who need English language assistance, have literacy needs, have dyslexia or a visual impairment.
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