Diversity is always in the spotlight, and rightly so. The rail industry, like all others, is still getting to grips with including and representing the wide gamut of cultures, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and abilities in today’s society. This pioneering work is being carried out by some very special individuals, and the RailStaff Awards recognises their vital efforts.
The specialists who look after diversity and inclusion tend to work for HR – human resources. So, the three areas are rightly combined in this award. This year, Network Rail’s Sharon Salmon stood out from the competition and was rightly rewarded with the HR, Diversity & Inclusion Award.
Sharon’s work leading Network Rail’s Cultural Fusion employee network (CFN) has made massive improvements throughout the organisation. CFN is Network Rail’s Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) employee network aimed at recognising the benefits of a diverse workforce. Sharon’s inspiring and engaging leadership has built the credibility of the network and its reputation, increasing membership to over 1,000 members.
But her work doesn’t stop there. Sharon is part of the Race Matters Strategy group for Network Rail, and also supports the business to develop and build platforms that promote diversity such as the Black Futures Leaders Programme. She has also coached women in interview technique to help them gain promotion within the railway.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” said Sharon on receiving the award. “It’s been a long journey, but I’ve been driven by my own passion and what I believe in. It’s great to see the strides that Network Rail has made, and the influences we have on the wider industry. I am incredibly grateful to the people who have been part of my journey to achieving this prestigious award, too many to thank here, however I want to acknowledge and send the biggest thank you to my mother who influenced me in so many ways and she would have been incredibly proud of me.”
The HR, Diversity & Inclusion Award was sponsored by G&W UK/Europe Region companies, which includes Freightliner and Pentalver. Attracting highly skilled and diverse talent to G&W UK/Europe Region companies is an ongoing priority for the group. With a stronger focus on diversity and inclusion in the last few years, they are reaping the benefits, especially with the recruitment of females into frontline operational roles, including train and truck drivers.