CIHT Equality Diversity and Inclusion Award: 6 Takeaways from the shortlist

9th May 2024

The shortlist for the 2024 CIHT awards has been announced, in this blog we take a deeper look at the ED&I entries ahead of the Awards Dinner on 13 June 2024.

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Equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) has a major role to play in the future of the transport sector. In recent years there has been a positive shift in the sector beyond just recognition of the importance of ED&I, towards implementing ED&I strategies and initiatives. 

The shortlist for CIHT’s annual awards was announced on 23 April 2024, ahead of the ceremony on 13 June. The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Award recognises initiatives that have made a positive contribution to organisations, the industry and society. This year’s award shortlist showcases how initiatives in the sector are going beyond simply introducing high level ED&I strategies and are implementing programmes that embed ED&I into professional practices for the diverse communities we serve.  

In this article, we will look at how the shortlisted initiatives have been driving progress in ED&I across the sector.  

Developing knowledge and awareness 

This year’s shortlist demonstrates the importance of knowledge development through evidence-based research. Thereby helping the sector build a deeper understanding of how it can work for everyone and embed wider social inclusion. 

Safety Inclusion Assessment (SIA), launched in 2023 by WSP is a design tool providing an understanding of the challenges encountered by women, girls and other under-represented groups. This provides a framework to address personal safety concerns throughout project life cycle by involving end users in design from the outset.  

SIA and its associated research helped implement over 10 projects across areas of transport including active travel, buses, parks and gardens. A key outcome demonstrated by this year’s initiatives was that research-focussed projects helped gain industry-wide attention and supported the adoption of similar ED&I practices in other organisations and projects including internationally.  

Engaging with people 

Engagement has been an important theme in this year’s shortlist, demonstrating the importance of putting people first and responding to their lived experience and insight.  

First Bus’s First Bus EDI Initiatives saw ED&I as having an important role in its aim to establish a people-centric approach in its business. The company recognised that creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce was a key aspect of employee wellbeing. 

The ED&I strategy consisted of five core pillars: 

  1. Improving leaders’ knowledge and confidence around ED&I; 

  1. Gaining momentum through ED&I awareness; 

  1. Enabling ED&I to underpin a culture shift; 

  1. Data to inform meaningful action;  

  1. Governance to mobilise and track our progress. 

These pillars provided a blueprint for multiple initiatives, including enrolling colleagues on educational courses, encouraging colleagues to share stories, and introducing ‘inclusion networks.’ The company then monitored the progress of its ED&I strategy through Employee Engagement Surveys. This year, initiatives have taken an innovative approach to stakeholder engagement by learning from outcomes and continually applying these lessons to ED&I practices.  

Local approaches  

Thinking at a local level helps to better understand the needs and feelings of people in different areas.  

Like many UK cities, Leeds represents a huge diversity of ideas and needs. To ensure successful delivery of its wider strategic objectives, Leeds City Council’s Enhancing EDI through ‘Connecting Leeds for All’ (CLFA) wanted to ensure: 

  • Consultation feedback matched ward demographics; 

  • Materials were accessible to those who had previously described barriers (digital exclusion, visually impairment, time-poor, where English is not the primary spoken language); 

  • Find/develop new engagement opportunities with previously unreached diverse stakeholder groups (people with disabilities, minority ethnic identities, younger/older). 

The approach identified barriers and began implementing actions to ensure engagement reached the whole community. Following a phase one consultation which had a 72% response rate from males, phase two of the Connecting West Leeds Consultation received a 48% Male: 50% Female: 1% Non-binary split that more closely reflected ward demographics. Leeds City Council has presented this approach to other local authorities, showing that promoting change locally can encourage others to follow. 

Breaking down barriers 

For the sector to better represent its communities, it must remove the barriers to representation. Addressing under-representation in the workforce was a key area targeted by several shortlisted entries.  

Transport for London’s Women in Bus and Coach aimed to increase the number of women working in the bus and coach industry. According to its own research, while 50% of bus users in London are women, only 10% of staff in the sector are female. Women in Bus and Coach identified barriers to women’s employment in the bus industry and responded by establishing a national network to engage stakeholders to attract more women into bus and coach jobs. 

Representation is not simply about bringing diversity to the workforce but bringing new perspectives. Encouraging diverse talent into the sector helps deepen the knowledge and understanding of the needs of all its users.  

Visibility as a catalyst for change 

Greater representation brings greater visibility, creating safe and inclusive spaces that make everyone feel welcome. This encourages a diverse and under-reached talent pool to pursue a career in transport. 

Morgan Sindall Infrastructure’s Challenging the Status Quoincreasing diversity and creating careers on our A11 reconstruction project initiative aimed to provide employment opportunities to under-represented groups. For its A11 concrete road reconstruction project, they delivered a targeted recruitment programme to create opportunities for many people. To achieve this, the company worked closely with local authorities to connect with diverse jobseekers.  

It built momentum in its project by making use of local opportunities - hosting stands at local fairs, engaging with schools and presenting at educational events. As part of this, women taking part in the project were encouraged to present, which provided visible representation and visible role models. The outcome was 16 people were employed, including six local people, five long-term unemployed and one career changer. Projects like these can create new career pathways – interrupting over-reliance on more traditional and linear routes in, and opening opportunities for others to follow suit.  

Creating accessible opportunities for everyone 

ED&I is not just about creating new opportunities, but ensuring opportunities are available to everyone. This is particularly important to the transport sector because access to transport ensures people can access work, health, education, and social networks, among other things.  

Transport to Thrive aimed to articulate some of the challenges faced by younger people in accessing transport. The initiative involved research through engaging with 16- to 24-year-olds, building the evidence base, supporting policy formulation, and communication and dissemination. Transport to Thrive also set up a Young Advisors Group.  

The initiative produced two reports in the hope of influencing future policy, while one of the members of the Young Advisors Group entered transport planning as a professional.  

Many of the outcomes in this year’s awards entries showed that ED&I projects are not just about implementing a strategy but creating and effectively embedding ED&I into practices to ensure sustained yet flexible long-term progression.  


>>>Book a table at the awards here 

Join us on the evening of 13 June 2024 at 8 Northumberland Avenue for an unforgettable evening of celebrations for the Highways and Transport Sector.


>>>Book a place on CIHT Masterclass - Designing highways and transportation for people with dementia

Join CIHT’s EDI webinar in support of Dementia Action Week 2024. You will hear from leading experts on how to make our transport network more accessible and inclusive.   


>>>See the full shortlist for this year’s CIHT Awards here

Celebrating the highways, transport and infrastructure sector through the CIHT Awards 2024.


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