Home » Inclusivity in the Workplace » Inclusivity in action: how to build a railway for all

Dame Judith Hackitt

Non-Executive Director, HS2 Ltd

As we build the UK’s new high-speed railway, it’s essential we consider, involve and understand all groups of people it will serve.

One of the great things about rail is that it is accessible to everyone, whatever your age, social group or background. It’s also a clean and green way to travel. We are building a new, zero-carbon, high-speed railway network for the future: High Speed Two (HS2). 

Construction careers for everyone 

Our approach to inclusivity is embedded in how we work as we design, refine and build the new railway. Inclusivity is everywhere at HS2 — in our offices and on our sites, making sure that our workplaces are welcoming and suitable for employees from all walks of life.  

A career in construction can be for everyone. We are demonstrating that by changing outdated perceptions and recruitment practices, and through simple measures like offering flexible working patterns and well-fitting PPE. We are creating an environment that encourages less-represented groups — including women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities and the previously unemployed — to become part of a richer, more talented workforce.  

This approach is bearing fruit; today, over a third of our workforce is female, and our approach is making a difference to our supply chain where over 28% are female — well above industry averages. We are the first organisation in the UK to achieve the Clear Assured Platinum Standard — an accreditation designed to recognise exceptional commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. 

Anticipating diverse needs is a key
part of the work of our design teams.

Ensuring accessibility in travel 

Anticipating diverse needs is a key part of the work of our design teams. Recently, we took students from a local school for deaf children on a train journey around the West Midlands, finding out about the barriers they faced while travelling. Gathering this feedback prompts us to think about how destinations will be displayed and how journey progress is communicated on our new high-speed services, alongside other measures to ensure accessibility.  

Inclusivity across the organisation 

Inclusivity is not about equality — it’s about equity. Striving for equity allows us to put in place measures that support everyone, whether that is better-fitting safety clothing for women, small changes to the workplace for a neurodiverse employee or anticipating and catering to all passengers’ accessibility needs on our trains and in our stations. By embedding diversity and inclusivity as we design and build HS2, we can build a railway that truly is for everyone. 

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