Women in Rail guest speaker says companies taking positive action to address gender balance

A highly experienced operator in the skills environment says companies are seeing the benefits of investing time and money to address the gender balance.

Lynn Tomkins is Chair at Skills 4 UK Ltd, one of the leading providers of career development programmes for women, specialising in diversity and inclusion for the engineering, manufacturing, construction and science sectors.

She will be speaking at next Friday’s (December 6th) Women in Rail Annual Conference – with an interactive session titled ‘A diverse workforce, what now?’

The conference aims to explore the steps businesses can take to ensure a gender balanced, diverse and inclusive workforce in the UK railway industry. Recent statistics revealed in the rail industry only 16% of roles were filled by women – while when it comes to train drivers that figure is just 5%.

“My aim at the Women in Rail Annual Conference is to cover how bias in leaders embed how a group think and work against diversity and inclusions about the business itself,” said Lynn.

“Diversity is not enough and organisations must have an inclusive culture – the corporate and personal barriers to inclusion.

“Having worked in the metals’ sector in my early career in the Midlands, then moving to skills in the engineering sector, I know what it feels like to be in the minority and how I was perceived.

“Encouragingly in the past three-four years I have seen a lot more companies taking action to address the issues of gender balance. They are investing time and money and seeing measurable business benefits as a result.”

Lynn is a highly experienced manager and executive director operating at Ministerial and Board level. She has been recognised as being instrumental in terms of effective employer engagement within some of the UK’s key global engineering and land-based sectors.

Among her achievements include:

  • Being the first ever woman Vice Presidents of the Ship Building, Ship Repair Association (SSA).
  • Established and led the first UK Government Sector Skills Agreements between employers, Trade Unions, Trade Association, key agencies, regional and national partners and stakeholders.
  • Developed one of the most successful Women and Work programmes funded by the UK Commission of Employment and Skills.
  • Secured and delivered projects in excess of £10 million of UK Government skills’ contracts annually in the engineering and land-based sectors.
  • Developed the UK Employer Engagement Strategy in the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering sector which covers 132,000 employers and 1.7 million employees.

She said: “My previous background was skills in STEM working for 2 sector skills councils – ATB Landbase and then Semta. I’ve always been passionate about equality, so over five years ago I decided to leave Semta to focus on diversity and inclusion.

“I’m looking forward to speaking at the Women in Rail Annual Conference. Events such as the Women in Rail, Women in Construction and women in major projects all are hugely important in both raising awareness, debating and discussing the issues and solutions and highlighting best practice.

“Also support from people like RBD who support getting the message out to a wider audience is hugely effective.”

For more information about Skills 4 UK, visit www.genderdiversity.co.uk, or about the Women in Rail Annual Conference visit www.womeninrail.org