17 July 2023

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity in Rail and Infrastructure Sector.  

Industry News Recruitment Advice Sector Insights

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity in Rail and Infrastructure Sector.  

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity in Rail and Infrastructure Sector.  

We spoke in our earlier blog about how the rail and infrastructure sector is facing challenges with lack of talent in the industry right now.  But another finding from our free rail and infrastructure labour market report is how the diversity landscape looks.  

Male to female  – how diverse is the rail and infrastructure industry right now?  

Out of 110k candidates in the market across the UK, just 25% of those are female.  Whilst this is a number to be improved upon, we do know that the impact of inspiring more and more females into STEM education has in fact had an impact. With 97% of that 25% having fewer than 3 years’ experience in the rail and infrastructure industry – we should expect to see this number grow over the next few years. That is, of course, if the sector continues to engage and inspire the next generation to be excited by innovation and tech.  

An older report, authored by us and published by Rail Staff back in 2020 quotes a 17% female workforce, so we’re definitely seeing an improvement.  

Beyond gender, what impact does the sector have on neurodiversity? 

Diversity goes beyond Male to Female ratios.  Wayne Smith, Delivery Manager, and our resident Rail Recruitment Expert discussed with us how some of his clients have been supporting candidates with neurodiversity.  

“One of the clients I work closely with supported a neurodiverse candidate by giving them the interview questions prior to their meeting. This allowed the candidate more time to process – enabling them to have the best possible chance to make an impact. Additionally, they also offered the candidate the choice of three interview rooms – knowing how sensory issues could impact their ability to focus.”  

This is a step towards real change for the rail and infrastructure sector with regards to upping reasonable adjustments in line with a true understanding of candidates’ needs.   

Wayne adds “Another big client has introduced more EDI questions as part of the application process – so they can monitor and hold themselves more accountable”.  

Ethnicity in Rail and Infrastructure  

In terms of ethnicity across the labour market, the predominant ethnicity is white (76%), with Asian candidates making up (13%). Black candidates make up only 4% of the labour market.  

HS2 published its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion report back in 2022. They challenged themselves to reach 23% Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic Employees (BAME). Though they didn’t reach their target of 23% they had increased to 22% (up 1% on the previous year).  But whilst they made improvements overall the percentage of BAME in the Senior Leadership Team had decreased from 10% to 8% – due to a decrease in overall number within the Senior Leadership Team that year.  

HS2 had taken a number of steps towards achieving its goal to increase BAME %. Notably working with their supply chain to attend ethnic recruitment events and encourage young BAME talent networks.  Additionally, they worked with specialist job boards and partners including Evenfields and Black Professionals in Construction (BPiC).  

What about age diversity?  

Well due to the lack of attraction, there are fewer younger people working in the industry, (you can see the % of candidates with 0-3 years’ experience in our free rail and infrastructure labour market report here), which is a problem of two parts. The first is retirement, the second is innovation more commonly delivered by the younger generation of rail professionals.  

Great strides are being made to reinvigorate the reputation of the rail and infrastructure sector amongst the new generation of talent. With the likes of Young Rail Professionals (YRP) leading the charge, employers are reaping the rewards of YRP’s long-term effort to promote, inspire and develop the next generation of railway talent.  

What needs to happen next to improve equality, diversity and inclusivity in the rail and infrastructure industry?  

As a whole improvement has been made, and the shift in approach has a direct result on numbers. That said, there’s more work to be done collectively to engage the next generation of talent across each of the equality, diversity and inclusivity pillars. Employers not already doing so could take advantage of the path already taken by the likes of HS2 but also take inspiration from our Inclusive Hiring Practices included in our free report.  

Don’t forget to get your free Rail and Infrastructure Labour Market Report. 

Or, if you’re ready to talk talent, feel free to reach out to Wayne here.

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