Southeastern sets target to recruit more female train drivers

Southeastern is today (Monday 12th November) launching an initiative to encourage more women to opt for a career in rail, an industry which can offer an exciting, fulfilling range of skills and opportunities.

In order to boost the number of women in front-line roles, the company has set a target of raising the number of female applicants for train driver roles to 40% by 2021.

At present, only 4.5% of Southeastern’s drivers are female – a figure in line with national statistics. Southeastern is determined to break the perception of driving trains as a male-dominated occupation. Across the entire rail industry, just 16% of employees are female.

Southeastern has introduced initiatives including:

  • Mentoring and development programmes for female employees
  • Amended imagery in recruitment campaigns to reflect diversity
  • Mandatory unconscious bias training for all managers
  • Partnership with WorkingMums, a leading employment website, to attract applicants
  • Employability programmes aimed at women, to provide help with application and interview techniques
  • Recruitment Open Days specifically aimed at women
  • Establishment of a women’s colleague network group – WIRE (open to all colleagues in Southeastern. Participants include women and male allies)

Uniquely on the national rail network, Southeastern has gender balance on its eight-strong executive committee, with an even split of male and female executives.

Ellie Burrows, Southeastern’s Train Services Director, said: “Driving a train brings responsibility, pride and achievement. It’s high time we broke the perception of the railways as a male-dominated industry. There are thousands of talented women out there who could have a rewarding career working in roles ranging from engineering to driving, on-board supervising or sales.

“Society has moved on. It’s no longer the case that little boys play with toy trains and little girls play with dolls. It’s vital that as a major transport operator, we have a workforce that reflects the diversity of our passengers.”

Over the coming months, Southeastern will be running a series of recruitment campaigns encouraging women and men from a wide range of backgrounds to apply for roles as drivers.