60 second interview — Dave Kaye, Chief Operating Officer — Rail, Abellio
We hear from Abellio on their journey towards achieving an inclusive and diverse working environment, improving diversity at all levels across the business.
Q: Why is having an inclusive and diverse working environment so important?
It removes barriers to entry and allows you to embrace and promote the wider talent pool. It is hugely important and demonstrates the clear business benefits of having a diverse team. It also enables cultural change, which looks at an inclusive environment where our employees feel that they belong no matter what gender, race, disability, sexuality or other protected characteristics.
Q: When it comes to improving diversity at a senior level, what does your company do to support people from under-represented groups in their journey to the top?
We have done a full review from top to bottom within our organisation to identify our working population. We have then set targets for improvement over a number of years to increase the number of under represented groups. We are also looking at what barriers to entry or working practices we need to change to open up our workplace for a wider representation from all groups. It is also important to understand where people drop out so that action can be taken to rectify this.
Q: What are the most innovative steps your company has taken on I&D?
Starting the journey. We have also set up teams across all our businesses who are passionate about the journey we are taking.
Q: What has your career journey highlighted for you in terms of the value of embracing diversity?
The key to any organisations effectiveness is its people. If you value your staff they will value your organisation and work hard to deliver for you. Embracing diversity allows you to pick from a much wider talent pool which, provided that you promote on meritocracy, means that you develop as strong a team as possible. Good teams deliver results. There is also a key to not resting on your laurels and continuing focus on positive change that will benefit your staff and business.
Q: What was the spur for your business in becoming more proactive on I&D?
Firstly it is the right thing to do! It is also a critical time for diversity and inclusion. The recent report on racial equality and the campaign on safeguarding women show that now is the time to make things better in these areas. We also operate in a contract environment with many of the clients including D&I targets as part of the contracts.
Q: Are there any other companies that you feel are at the forefront of this journey?
AstraZeneca, Diageo, Unilever and BAE. Network Rail are doing good things in our sector also. Two of our Operating companies (West Midlands Trains and ScotRail) have recently achieved investors in diversity which is very pleasing and both have been nominated for awards
Q: What is a key piece of advice for companies just starting their inclusion and diversity journeys?
It is important that the strategy is embedded throughout the business. It has to be led from the top therefore it is important that the board demonstrate leadership in this area both individually and collectively. Communicate what you are doing and where you are on the journey and concentrate on what is possible rather than promising the impossible.