Saluting our Sisters at Network Rail

We’re celebrating Black History Month throughout October.

This year’s theme is #SalutingOurSisters. It seeks to recognise the multiple barriers Black women face in the UK due to their gender and race.

We’re working hard at Network Rail to remove the barriers women and Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues face here.

Creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce is incredibly important. Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “We need diverse thinking to help us to serve our passengers better.”

Saluting our sisters

This year we’re working with our employee network Cultural Fusion to shine the spotlight on some of our Black female colleagues making a difference.

Chipo Madzikwah – a voice for change

Chipo is a graduate track engineer in Scotland. The diversity and inclusion work she does for the rail industry is among her proudest achievements.

Chipo is an elected member of the Railway Division Board at Institution of Mechanical Engineers. She creates mentorship and programmes to support underrepresented groups there.

Chipo is even a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) ambassador at Network Rail and volunteers extensively as part of it.

She describes herself as a “voice for change” and we couldn’t agree more.

Lorna Brown-Owens – working to make a real difference

Lorna is an access and inclusion manager. She makes a real difference at Network Rail by working to make our environment more accessible for disabled passengers and those with additional needs.

She advises everyone to “don’t doubt yourself, believe in yourself and your abilities”.

She said: “Put yourself out there and take charge of your career.”

Olga Siduna – a role model

Olga is a shift station supervisor at London King’s Cross station. She is proud to be, “a role model for women in the railway”.

Olga is passionate about keeping her team motivated and helping them develop. She said: “Working in stations you see so much, and it is very real but no matter what the situation is everyone does their bit to make a difference.”

Tamarra Taylor – an inspiration

Tamarra is a discipline manager for infrastructure projects at Network Rail.

She has led on some fantastic new programmes throughout her career, including one that identifies training and development opportunities for project professionals. This programme has helped us in turn serve you – our passengers – better by empowering our staff.

Tamarra also volunteers a great deal to support colleagues and young people from diverse backgrounds.

She said: “As I have developed through my career, I want to be a role model to young people and demonstrate that progression is possible.”

Shaking up the wider rail industry

Other celebrations this month include a collaboration with our wider industry partners, including Govia Thameslink Railway and Southeastern Railway.

The Unspoken Black Experience brings together a panel of Black women from across rail to discuss how the industry can be more inclusive, and empowering Black talent to progress.

We hope to make an even bigger impact by working together.

Not just for the month

Faizza Rumani, an equity, diversity and inclusion specialist who leads on race and ethnicity work at Network Rail, said: “At Network Rail, the barriers Black colleagues face in the workplace is a year-round conversation.”

Strategies such as Everyone Matters are helping us become a more open, diverse and inclusive organisation. And we are continuing our journey to create meaningful change.

Systemic change can take time but we remain committed in our efforts.

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