Today in Melbourne, 380 Australasian rail industry representatives attended the Australasian Railway Association’s (ARA) Women in Rail Lunch to celebrate the contribution of women to the rail industry.

Danny Broad, Chief Executive Officer of the ARA said that as the rail sector enters an exciting period of unprecedented investment and expansion, such transformation provides the industry with the unique opportunity to embrace change and improve the gender diversity of the workforce.

“Currently, rail organisations are at different stages of the gender diversity journey. The industry has an ageing and male-dominated workforce but shares a strong desire to actively improve the gender balance, recognising the many benefits it brings. The significant growth facing the industry provides the perfect leverage to drive this change,” said Danny Broad.

At the Women in Rail lunch, ARA Chairman, Bob Herbert AM, launched both the Gender Diversity Report and the Gender Diversity Report Card and noted that improving gender diversity in the Australasian rail workforce is a key focus for the ARA and the responsibility of our member companies.

“The ARA, on behalf of the rail industry has collated diversity data to provide a greater understanding of our progress with gender diversity. The industry is on track with some initiatives such as 99 per cent of survey respondents having formal policies or strategies in place that specifically support gender diversity. However, improvement is essential in other areas, such as increasing new appointments awarded to women and investigating why 29 per cent of women are resigning from their positions,” said Bob Herbert AM.

Speakers at the ARA’s Women in Rail Lunch included Sue McCarrey, CEO, Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator; Lisa Annese, CEO of the Diversity Council of Australia; Rene Lalande, CEO, Transdev Australasia and 2017 Male Champion of Change; Anna Squire, Asia Pacific Rail Leader and Global Rail Executive, Arup; Anne Koopman, Head of Quality and Lean Manufacturing Australia, Bombardier Transportation; Bob Herbert AM, Chairman, ARA; and Loulou Hammad, Head of Communications, Australia, Asia Pacific Region, Bombardier Transportation.

In her keynote address, Lisa Annese explained, “This is not just an organisational responsibility, it is also an individual’s responsibility. Gender equality is not about the benefits of women at the expense of men – it’s about a win-win situation for both genders”.

“Being a male champion of change is about stepping up beside women. Diversity and inclusion is not a HR or Corporate problem but a whole of business issue. We need to take action to dismantle the barriers to gender equality,” said Rene Lalande.

Anna Squire noted that, “We need to create a culture of respect and walk the talk. My advice to young women is, it’s ok to be yourself, find a mentor and be open to new opportunities. My advice to managers is seek out and encourage women to apply for roles”.

“We all need to act as mentors and be sure to check our bias regularly. We need to develop a more diverse way to attract talent and have better working structures,” said Anne Koopman.

Heidi Beck, Chief People Officer at Pacific National and Women in Rail Lunch attendee stated that Pacific National values diversity of all kinds across their workforce from senior management to operational roles. “We are continuing to work hard to attract women to the Pacific National workforce especially in roles that have been traditionally occupied by men such as train drivers and other operational roles. Women who are working in these roles are having a great deal of success and we encourage women to apply for roles in the rail freight sector”.

The Gender Diversity Report of the Australasian rail workforce is available here and the Gender Diversity Report Card is available here.