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International Women’s Day 2024

Our gender equality employee network talks about how to inspire inclusion – the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (8 March).

Members of the aptly named Inspire took part in a series of films to share their views on how to support a diverse workforce and encourage people from all backgrounds to join the railway.

Watch the videos on our YouTube channel.

Bronnie Clarke has had a varied career at Network Rail. She joined us in our finance department and has since worked in operations and graduated signalling school. Today, she’s a station manager at London Liverpool Street.

Bronnie’s keen to promote the importance of inclusivity and a wide range of experiences in making better teams at work.

She said: “I brought a bit of a unique perspective to the team, I think. We had never had a a female operations manager before. It’s important to have that equality and diversity within the team.”

Bronnie’s keen to promote the importance of inclusivity and a wide range of experiences in making better teams at work.

She said: “We’re seeing more and more people come through grass root entry-level roles, and it’s exciting that … in 10 years’ time it could look completely different.”

Lily Shimmin, a scheme project manager, said: “You need different perspectives and you need different people’s opinions of things. Otherwise, you won’t make progress.”

Bronnie Clarke, station manager at London Liverpool Street, talks during an interview.

Rajinder Pryor MBE, a lead delivery manager, said: “I can see the change, the positive change. Men and women are working together to promote that gender equality in the workplace. What makes me proud the most about Inspire is the sheer amount of change.

“Where I’d like to see the rail industry in 10 years’ time is much more balanced genders, but also where we have much more open conversations across the industry.”

Vanessa Wragg, co-chair of Inspire and a project manager in the East Coast Digital Programme, also called on the rail industry to come together to ensure it makes progress, with Jennifer Beeston, infrastructure director, Network Rail High Speed (Southern Route), adding: “You can’t do that on your own.”

Inspire – Network Rail’s gender equality network 

Inspire is made up of a group of volunteers and focusses on creating a fair and supportive environment for women and people of all genders at Network Rail and beyond.

In December, Inspire’s 10-year anniversary conference celebrated a decade of helping Network Rail become an employer of choice for everyone by challenging mindsets, supporting colleagues and growing awareness of the biggest issues we face.​ 

A small group of women established Inspire in 2013 to help other women in all aspects of the business. Since then, it’s evolved into a gender equality network aimed at championing the rights of all our colleagues – and are open to everyone. In fact, it’s now Network Rail’s biggest employee network, with about 2,500 members. 

Last year Inspire’s work helped Network Rail make the Times Top 50 Employers for Gender Equality for the third year running.

Inspire also worked closely with our Equity, Diversity and Conclusion and Property teams to roll out period products at Network Rail sites across Britain.

Plus, it helped champion better fitting and more comfortable PPE for women in breathable fabric so our colleagues experiencing menopause can get through their day more comfortably.

Jennifer Beeston, infrastructure director, Network Rail High Speed, talks during an interview.

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