Changing the culture is the key for gender balance in the rail industry

Companies in the rail industry are being urged to change their culture if they’re to attract more women to work in the sector.

That’s the message from Mat Baine, the Managing Director of Collaborative Project Management Services (CPMS) – who is speaking at the Women in Rail Annual Conference on Friday.

He should know; the SME Project Management experts in the rail industry have a 55% female workforce – far greater than the average in rail. In three categories, 23% of senior leaders, 53% of middle leaders and 86% of future leaders at the company are all female.

“We didn’t set a target, it was all about having that culture in place,” he said.

“That welcoming culture has been the key and with that has come the benefits for the company.

“Female staff have recommended their friends and family, we have a mother and daughter working for us, best friends and a mother and future daughter-in-law. Get the right culture in place and word will spread.

“You have to be accommodating. An example is back-to-work mums – many still have to do the school runs so you have to be a bit more flexible.”

The Women in Rail Conference takes place in London. This year, the conference will explore the steps businesses can take to ensure a gender balance, diverse and inclusive workforce in the UK railway industry.

More specifically it will reiterate the business case for being more inclusive, outline the corporate and personal challenges likely to be faced when seeking to create an inclusive culture and highlight best practice in rail and other industries.

Mat is seeing the benefits: “There are no doubts across the board that things are changing. When I started in 1991 there were very few women working in rail – in fact it was about three years before I even met a woman who was working in the rail industry – that woman now works at CPMS.”

“Things aren’t going to change overnight though, and it will take time to address the gender balance.

“In my presentation I’ll be looking at the benefits that I’ve seen which includes employee engagement – which at CPMS is very high; and staff-retention – of the three or four people that have left the company in the last seven years, two have come back.”

This year Mat celebrates his 28th year working in the rail industry. I started as a trainee linesman for BR. He was also a Senior Programme Manager on the Thameslink Programme for Network Rail before becoming Managing Director at CPMS.

He said: “When I was a kid, I never grew up dreaming of working in the rail industry. I took the job when I was 18 thinking something better would come along.

“After 28 years nothing better has come along, and that’s because the rail industry is such a fantastic place to work and the people working in it are great. Sadly you only find this out once you have started working in rail.”

Visit www.cpmsgroup.com for more information. Registration for the Women in Rail Conference is full. To join the waiting list email wr@womeninrail.org. Visit www.womeninrail.org