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Freightliner champions diversity and inclusion

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The rail industry, like many others, is still getting to grips with including and representing the wide array of cultures, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and abilities represented in today’s workplace. This pioneering work is being carried out by some very special individuals, and the RailStaff Awards recognises their vital efforts.

Freightliner, sponsor of the RailStaff Award’s HR, Diversity and Inclusion Award, places great emphasis on improving diversity, equality, and inclusion across its business areas.

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition that gender equality is an increasingly important topic for the Freightliner business. New executives have helped to change the mindset of the business and an understanding that improving diversity improves decision making and allows for a more balanced approach to doing business. In less than two years, Freightliner has increased its female executive members from one to three, including its CEO (interim appointment). On a monthly basis, gender profile is discussed at executive meetings and a target has been set to increase Freightliner’s female population by 1% year-on-year as part of its five-year strategy.

Freightliner has also developed a Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural awareness programme for all managers and leaders, which will be cascaded to all employees during 2023/2024. The aim is for all employees, regardless of seniority, to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion, including the moral and social benefits. It is hoped this will help transform behaviours and influence cultural change allowing for a more inclusive environment.

Freightliner values first-hand feedback from female frontline colleagues and annually celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) where colleagues come together in celebration of women in the rail and logistics industry. This is a valued initiative and a wonderful social event used to share experiences and examine and discuss topics that are important to the female frontline workforce (such as personal safety, PPE, childcare, and family challenges).

As a spin off to IWD, a female driver forum was established, chaired by a female train driver, aimed at identifying, voicing, and addressing challenges that impact women in the workplace and particularly for those working in frontline roles. Learnings from this forum allow Freightliner to not only address issues raised but help them make improvements that will positively influence more diverse recruitment into frontline roles. It also ensures every single person in the company is valued, heard, respected, empowered, and feels a true sense of belonging.

In 2022, Freightliner was a driving force behind the publication of a new children’s book, My Mummy is a Train Driver, aimed at inspiring young children to consider a future career in rail and to showcase the welcoming and inclusive work environment the rail industry continues to foster.

In the words of Freightliner’s HR Director, Glynis Appelbe “Misconceptions of the rail freight industry has created an image problem, which has made the sector unattractive to underrepresented and protected groups. Fostering equality, diversity and inclusion in our industry is about challenging mindsets and putting in place initiatives aimed at retaining and attracting diverse talent to our industry, particularly for females and other unrepresented groups.”