The Women in Rail Awards, jointly organised by the European Commission’s Women in Transport Platform and the Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Managers (CER), recognise outstanding initiatives developed by companies, organisations or individuals that have led to concrete improvements in female representation, diversity and inclusion in the rail industry, where women account for just 21% of the workforce. They also promote an inclusive, diverse, and safe working environment. This year, 51 nominations were submitted.
Winners announced! A jury comprising European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean, Member of the European Parliament Vera Tax, and Member of the European Economic and Social Committee Baiba Miltovica, selected the following winners in four categories:
Deutsche Bahn (Germany), for going the extra mile in making gender balance a top priority in rail. Amongst other measures, the company decided to increase the proportion of women in leadership positions from 20% to 30% by 2024, supported by a unique recruiting strategy. The company offers, for instance, flexible employment conditions, part-time options and family-friendly working hours. Its 2021 ‘DB Women’s Month’ campaign led to 20% more female applicants being hired than in the previous month, thus increasing the proportion of women in its workforce by a significant 23%.
Best initiative against harassment
FGC (Spain), for its initiative against (sexual) harassment at the workplace. FGC has launched a number of actions to promote an inclusive culture and raise awareness among staff of how to fight sexual and gender-based harassment. Together with the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, FGC developed specific training to prevent ‘sexual or gender-based harassment in the workplace’. But FGC also has the transport user in mind. It carried out a security audit of stations to improve the safety of stations, by for example improving lighting, adapting signposting to avoid gender stereotypes, and launching a specific app to facilitate reporting of harassment. A user survey has confirmed an increased feeling of safety in FGC stations.
Best improvement in inclusion in the workplace
SNCF (France), for its social inclusion programme. SNCF has a long history of commitment to promoting inclusion and diversity in the workplace. This started in 1992, with a social partners agreement on the employment of people with disabilities. Since 2006, SNCF has implemented various agreements on gender equality and diversity, on part-time work and on teleworking. SNCF has created a Diversity Department, whose six staff members develop measures to fight all types of discrimination. SNCF is committed to promoting a mindset of inclusion that goes beyond the notion of gender, encouraging the inclusion of people with disabilities, fighting LGBT-phobia, and supporting intergenerational synergies through mentoring. SNCF also pro-actively looks for talent in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and supports young people starting out in the working world.
Rising Star award
Linda Allen, Head of Talent Management at Iarnród Éireann ‒ Irish Railways (Ireland), for her exceptional leadership and concrete actions to promote women in rail. Over the last two years, Ms Allen has transformed the experience of women and men in Irish Rail – and the opportunities on offer – through programmes to develop the skills of rail workers. She notably launched the ‘Women in Leadership Development Programme’ together with Trinity College in Dublin, which sparked the interest of many female students in STEM studies (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Women comprised 56% of the most recent graduate intake. Ms Allen has also launched a ‘Women in Rail Network’ at Irish Rail, as well as a new mentoring programme. Her efforts have helped make the rail sector a more attractive career choice – not only for women, but for new recruits in general. Her efforts are clearly helping to address the staff shortage in the sector by attracting women and young people to a career in transport.
The award ceremony took place in Brussels on International Women’s Day on 8 March 2022.
European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, said: “On this International Women’s Day, I am proud to honour these exceptional movers and shakers from across Europe. In organising today’s awards, the rail sector is demonstrating its commitment to promoting diversity and equality. We clearly need more women in rail and I thank all winners for sharing their inspiring stories with us today! I hope their good examples and practices will pave the way for many others to follow, and for many more inspiring women to join the rail family!”