To celebrate this International Women’s Day theme of Embracing Equity, we wanted to challenge the inequalities that limit women and girls. We were lucky enough to be joined by our Customer Service Managers, Sarah, Erica, Elizabeth and Clare, our Business Change Manager, Candice, and our Customer Director, Colette. These women have each overcome obstacles and use their talent and tenacity to become leaders in our industry.
Read on to discover how they reject gender-biased attitudes, believing in themselves and their potential instead.
As the world marks International Women’s Day, why is it important that we celebrate it in this industry?
Erica: It is about celebrating the many great women that we have working on the railway and sharing their stories, inspiring future generations to become a part of the railway and encouraging more women to apply for more roles across our industry.
Sarah: Traditionally, the rail industry has been male dominated and some still see it that way. It’s important to highlight the many women and their career successes to help demonstrate that rail is inviting to all individuals and their career aspirations.
Clare: International Women’s Day is a time when we can recognise and celebrate the fantastic achievements by women around the world. We empower each other to achieve what we want, and this isn’t restricted to professional achievements.
So, as someone who has experienced the industry first hand, why would you encourage other women to pursue it as a career?
Erica: I think the railway has always been historically seen as a male-dominated environment, and it used to be daunting to women to apply for certain roles, but that has changed. It is an interesting and exciting place to work with lots of opportunities throughout the industry to suit everyone.
Colette: I genuinely feel this is a unique time for the rail industry and a chance to truly make a difference in shaping mobility solutions for customer's long term. We have so many fantastic people and an inclusive culture. The passion and enthusiasm I have witnessed during my time so far in the industry is infectious, and makes you want to be part of it with the confidence that you can make a real difference.
With that being said, what advice would you then give to the women who want to pursue a career in rail?
Candice: Do it! Give it a try! This is a great industry with a vast variety of roles available; there is always more to learn. If you do join the industry, my biggest piece of advice would be to get yourself a mentor. Someone to bounce ideas off, open opportunities for you and help you to grow your network.
Elizabeth: Look out for each other, even when no one is watching. Celebrate the achievements of others and be the person that raises their colleagues’ names in a room full of opportunities.
Empowered women empower women. So, as we celebrate the women in our workforce, which women have inspired you the most?
Candice: Easy answer - my mum! My mother is the most efficient, fast-paced woman that I know and has an outstanding ability to juggle several priorities at the same time. Throughout her life she has set up several of her own start-up businesses, become an absolute specialist in her area of work within the Middle East where my parents live. She always has more than one job on the go at a time and yet somehow found time to bring up three children. I will always look up to my mum's ability to make the most out of every day and do so with compassion, determination, and time for other people.
Clare: I have always been inspired by women who are not afraid to show who they are and work hard to achieve what they want even when faced with adversity. They have helped shape who I am today, shown me how to be compassionate, humble, and resilient.
Colette: I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many fantastic and inspiring women, but the one woman in my life who has been my greatest inspiration is my mum. She emigrated from the Philippines in the early 70s, working several years in the NHS before setting up her own business in nursing homes at a time of recession. She found a great life partner in my dad, which was the key to ensuring a balanced work and home life and even today, whilst enjoying retirement, continues to help others through volunteering work.
Elizabeth: I consciously surround myself by the women who inspire me most. All my friends are courageous, kind, and supportive of each other. They are the kind of people that when you succeed, they applaud without envy, and when you fail, they’re there to get you back on your feet.
Sarah: Nisha Katona, previously a successful child protection barrister, to then entering the restaurant business. She holds an MBE, has 18 restaurants across the UK and featured on many popular television channels. Nisha is a fine example of demonstrating how you follow your dreams and that you can be successful should you choose to change your career path.
Written by Julia