Inclusion and Diversity at GWR

Great Western Railway has worked collaboratively with colleagues to establish an Inclusion and Diversity Strategy and Action Plan that creates an environment where all colleagues feel comfortable to bring their whole selves to work. Over 600 colleagues and Trades Union representatives worked with us to develop the strategy that aims to achieve our vision where: We are progressive. We are one family. We are inclusive. First time, every time.

The strategy aims to broaden our appeal for both customers and colleagues and has strong links with our Great Experience Makers customer excellence training. We have empowered colleagues to hold the Executive Team to account through the Inclusion Action Board and staff network groups, each with an Executive Sponsor.

Our strategy covers five areas:

Understanding our position: ensuring that our people data captures colleagues protected characteristics; that we investigate recruitment outcomes at each step of the process; analysing our engagement survey results by protected characteristic; and, understanding the ethnic diversity of the communities that we serve.

Inclusion and Diversity at GWR
Inclusion and Diversity at GWR

Our appeal: changing where we advertise; working with underprivileged communities; supporting PRIDE celebrations; naming trains after local heroes including Sir Paul Stephenson, Tul Bahadur Pun, and Odette Hallowes; and pioneering the Rail to Refuge Scheme to provide free travel for women and families to reach the safety of a refuge to escape domestic abuse.

Our experience: updating the language in our policies to be gender neutral; creating transgender guidance in collaboration with transgender colleagues; introducing gender neutral uniforms but gender specific Personal Protective Equipment; and, creating blueprints for all future building changes to include gender neutral facilities and spaces.

Inclusion and Diversity at GWR
Inclusion and Diversity at GWR

Our talent: introducing specific development programmes to develop women and ethnically diverse colleagues; reverse mentoring for our Executive team and senior leaders; and, training over 140 Mental Health First Aiders.

Our voice and partners: supporting a wide range of active staff network groups who speak directly to our Executive Board; collaborating with our Trades Unions colleagues on I&D; and, working in partnerships with Women in Rail, Stonewall, WISE, and the 5% Club.

Measuring progress

We regularly review our quantitative data such as the percentage of the workforce that is female and the diversity of our management colleagues and we have set targets to drive progress. However, we are as interested in the qualitative insights. Insights come from: our Your Voice results, with a specific question in 2020 around feeling valued; increased positive sentiment on social media; and an increased number of colleagues feeling comfortable to share if they are disabled, LGBTQ+, or carers. Ultimately it is the nature of the conversations and stories in the organisation that really tells us if things have changed.

Our advice to others

There is always more work to do to ensure that GWR is inclusive and diverse. You can never assume you have done enough. However, we would recommend:

  • Make your journey on inclusion part of your cultural change with clear connections to your business purpose.
  • Work with colleagues directly to ensure they feel part of the story.
  • Ensure there is something for everyone to connect with. The inclusion of our work around mental health has helped to change the dialogue.
  • Encourage visible sponsorship from senior leaders who are engaged and show active support.
  • Avoid rules and encourage conversation, allow people to make mistakes in a supportive environment.
  • Encourage kindness. We must always make the effort to “seek first to understand” what the other person is going through and why they have their perspective. Dialogue with kindness at its heart is what really makes the change.

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