60 second interview — William Wilson, Siemens Mobility Limited
Siemens Mobility is a global infrastructure provider, seeking to create intelligent transport solutions across rail and road, to improve passenger experience. They are longstanding and passionate advocates for inclusion and diversity and the innovation it brings to their business. Siemens has embraced diversity for many years, seeing it as integral to how it operates and how it serves its customers. As such, it has significant diversity at all levels and in roles across its business. Operating throughout the UK, it also invests in local skills and seeks to add value in all the regions it works in.
We’ve spoken to William Wilson, Chief Executive, who has brought Siemens Mobility Limited’s commitment to life.
Q: Why is having an inclusive and diverse working environment so important?
Over the last few years we’ve worked as one team to effect real and lasting change for all employees at Siemens Mobility Limited. In the not too distant past, the transport industry was one of little diversity however over recent years, I’ve been extremely pleased to see a real shift towards a more inclusive industry. We value genuine diversity and the innovation that it brings — the more people with different vantage points we have, the richer and more successful our business.
Q: What has your career journey highlighted for you in terms of the value of embracing diversity?
Having spent 25 years in transport, I have witnessed and huge change in attitude and acceptance of diversity. Being gay I had to hide this in the early stages of my career, and this made me not only feel very different but affected the ability to interact on an equal basis. Today I am running a company where we embrace all inclusion and ensure that we workplace where ‘you don’t have to leave your real self at the door’. The journey continues but diversity is now firmly one of our core values
Q: What was the spur for your business in becoming more proactive on I&D?
Over the past 15 months COVID-19 has had a huge impact in the way we work and we’ve been even more focused on keeping our culture and diversity and inclusion journey progressing. We’ve made great strides developing our employee networks and have held virtual events, wellbeing sessions and training across our disabilities network, LGBTQ+ network, our women’s network and our BAME network. We launched a wellbeing programme called #inthistogether and employees across our entire company, whether they’re working from home, in one of our depots, factories or out in the field, are able to join regular sessions from parenting to resilience and internal support groups. COVID-19 has been a challenging time and progressing our diversity and inclusion journey has been key to our teams feeling supported.
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 continue to expand various mentoring programmes across our business to support employees in their current and future roles. We’re fortunate to have a wealth of talent, expertise and knowledge in our business and we want to make sure our employees are supported and inspired to take the next step in their career with Siemens Mobility. Gender diversity in our industry is a general problem, particularly in leadership roles, and we’ve made great progress in addressing that with several years of “women into leadership” programmes which we are scaling up even further this year.
Q: What are the most innovative steps your company has taken on I&D?
We have many innovative initiatives and programmes that are key to our journey. For example, for the past three years we have run a returners programme in to mid-level management roles which has attracted women and others who have been out of the workforce for several years to return. Similarly, we do a lot of work with Careers Transition partnership to facilitate military leavers in to leadership and engineering roles in our business. Our networks are also completely inclusive, our women’s network for instance is open to everyone, not just women, to make sure everyone can take part in any programmes, events and mentoring opportunities. I’m really proud that we launched our first Transitioning at Work policy this month which is a huge step for our business in making sure those who are transitioning are fully supported by the business.
Q: Are there any other companies that you feel are at the forefront of this journey?
The transport industry has previously been one of little diversity however over recent years, it’s been encouraging to see organisations working together to achieve a more diverse and inclusive industry. Outside of our industry, we often look to Sky as a best practice organisation who are achieving great things in the world of diversity and inclusion, particularly having been named the most LGBT-inclusive media company in 2018.
Q: What is a key piece of advice for companies just starting their inclusion and diversity journeys?
The biggest piece of advice I can give is listen to your people, they are at the heart of the business. A diversity of different approaches and ideas will make the organisation richer and more successful. Invest in people, be open to new ideas, give them a voice; after all it is our colleagues’ talent which will make the business thrive and uncover new opportunities for the future!