National Inclusion Week – Activating Your Potential

Thursday, 28 September 2023
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National Inclusion Week is a time to reflect on how we can be more diverse and inclusive.

London Northwestern Railway is continually striving to be more inclusive for all employees as we believe everyone is diverse and everyone is different. Where there are barriers, we aim to remove them, so each individual has the opportunity to succeed.

Statistics across the industry show a lack of representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds at Management and Executive level. Working with the industry, we are keen to ensure that everyone, no matter who they are, has the opportunity to activate their potential.

For National Inclusion Week 2023, we would like to celebrate the fantastic achievements of the Race Matters - Activate Your Potential (AYP) Career Development programme. A programme created in collaboration with Network Rail and several other train operating companies, all with a focus on addressing the underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in senior leadership positions within rail.

It is evident across the rail industry that there is a distinct lack of individuals of an ethnic minority in senior management positions. The AYP programme sought to provide equity of opportunity and support to ensure that we address this imbalance and ensure diversity is represented at all levels.

That is why we are using a phased approach on offering this opportunity, firstly piloting the programme with underrepresented groups at Board and Senior Management level, which will eventually open to everyone.

AYP Mentees

London Northwestern Railway mentees: Vikesh Sharma, Razwan Malik, Ashley Blackstock, Daniel Brown, Millie Sharma and Samerra Bano

The purpose of the programme was to identify mentees who have a keen desire to progress but would like additional support and guidance to help them navigate the progression routes within rail and to help overcome and eliminate barriers to career advancement.

Within London Northwestern Railway we are acutely aware and proud of the diverse communities we serve, and we want a workforce to be reflective of this. Inclusivity is something which quite simply put should be afforded to everyone and it is key to ensuring colleagues feel valued, supported and part of a team. Inclusivity is also pivotal to developing and retaining talent as well as developing and capitalising on the wealth of experience of colleagues who have long prosperous careers within rail.

The AYP programme was an opportunity for London Northwestern Railway to demonstrate its commitment to driving inclusivity and supporting colleagues to progress within the industry. The 12-week programme consisted of a series of workshops and a guest speaker session to compliment 1-2-1 mentoring. We were delighted with the fantastic response to the programme, and we were fortunate to have had nine mentors and nine mentees.

AYP Roadmap

Our mentees were from all areas of the organisation, including frontline operations with station staff, conductors, and drivers, as well as colleagues from our engineering, fleet, and head office teams.

Our mentors came from far and wide from across London Northwestern Railway with varying experiences. Mentors volunteered their time to support the development of colleagues and share their lived experiences.

The AYP programme was a resounding success and demonstrated the true power of mentoring in helping support and guide colleagues to over ambiguities and aid them in reaching their desired career goals. Talking to the mentees it was evident that the mentoring sessions allowed them to candidly share their challenges, views, and opinions which mentors were able to challenge back – all through insightful questioning. Mentoring also allowed colleagues to explore the lived experiences of their mentors to seek guidance and inspiration from their experiences to aid them in overcoming the challenges they faced during their careers.

AYP programme meeting

An unforeseen outcome from the mentoring process was the reciprocal mentoring element as the mentors commented on the fantastic and insightful conversations they had with mentees and how they had been enlightened by the challenges faced by many as well as being positively enthused by the sheer determination and resilience colleagues had shown in overcoming industry challenges to progress.

The workshops and guest speaker sessions made a valuable contribution to the programme to help colleagues in taking small meaningful steps in their career journey. Inspirational speakers gave an insight into their lived experiences and their career journey whilst sharing valuable hints and tips.

The AYP journey concluded with a wrap up event in Manchester where colleagues from five train operating companies and Network Rail came together to celebrate the achievements of the programme. This gave mentees an opportunity to network with one another, share their experiences.

It was great to see our London Northwestern Railway mentees representing our organisation, making fantastic contributions during the group discussions. It was great to see how uplifted our mentees were, their active engagement during the event clearly demonstrated the impact of the journey they had been on, and it was evident they were now positively enthused, focused, and ready to take the next step in their career journey.

At London Northwestern Railway, we are excited to continue our journey to make London Northwestern Railway and the rail industry more inclusive. We are currently working with colleagues across the industry for the next phase of the AYP programme in which we will seek to address under representation of other groups within rail. We are also developing an internal mentoring program to develop the future leaders and managers of tomorrow.