Diversity in the Rail Sector – A Vital Investment

Mobility Needs Women Conference – Berlin, Germany
On 8 and 9 May the German railway body Allianz pro Schiene held its ‘MINTeinander im digitalen Wandel – Mobilität braucht Frauen‘ conference. Allianz pro Schiene says the transport sector needs more women so that it can reach its full potential, further increase its creativity and become more future-proof. Working in transport allows women to pursue a good career in an area that is becoming increasingly important: sustainability.

Attendees to the event included experts, academics, young professionals and students. They discussed how women could reach senior positions. They also debated the idea of female networks as well as the digital transformation.

90 percent of the participants and speakers at this event were women. In particular, they appreciated the opportunity to network with high-ranking individuals in their field.

Alexandra von Oy, Head of Public Affairs Germany at Bombardier Transportation, said:

“We enjoyed two days of exciting debates, lectures and panel discussions as well as workshops at the highest level. […] The high-level conference showed how attractive the transport industry is for young people, especially women.

“Diversity is a very central requirement for all companies who want to get ahead and shape the mobility of the future and the digital transformation.”

Mark Lomas from HS2 discusses equality and diversity in rail at Railtex
Mark Lomas from HS2 discusses equality and diversity in rail at Railtex © Railway-News

Equality and Diversity in Rail Discussed at Railtex

Mark Lomas from HS2 also expressed the sentiment that the transport sector is too homogeneous at his talk at Railtex. Under the heading ‘The Shape of Things to Come’, he highlighted that only 1 in 8 engineers in the rail sector were women. He stressed that the way in which companies recruit and the language they use excludes groups and prevents a diverse set of applicants even reaching the starting line.

And given the skills shortage the rail sector is facing, having the biggest-possible pool for recruiting staff is vital. It also improves a company’s overall operations when a workforce is diverse because then employees will have different ways of thinking about problems and will come up with new approaches and solutions. This is not altruism, said Mark Lomas. It makes economic sense.

Skills Shortage

Whenever the discussion centres around women entering male-dominated fields, a concern that is typically raised is that jobs are being ‘taken away’ from men. But the facts don’t show that. Rail companies are finding it hard to recruit enough members of staff into their vacancies. There definitely is no over-abundance of applicants. And with an ageing workforce, large numbers of employees retiring will put an even greater strain on businesses. This was a concern expressed by SBB Cargo just today.

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