Global Hitachi Group Product & Services Hitachi Group Corporate Information

Rob Luijten is the Group Chief Human Resources Officer at Hitachi Rail. Learn more about his views and vision for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DEI) at Hitachi Rail.

Why is DEI important to you as CHRO of Hitachi Rail?

I joined Hitachi Rail a little over three months ago, and one of my first priorities has been to refine the DEI agenda to specify our ambition, focus and most importantly, actions.

As a father of three daughters, and being in the role that I am in, I often reflect on what we can do to build an inclusive workplace with equal access to opportunities and support infrastructure that provides people with the relevant support suited to their circumstances.

I believe we need to focus on building a workplace where everyone can participate and contribute, with equal access to opportunities. If we do this well, a more diverse workforce will follow.

There are many companies we can learn from, for instance, how they deal with maternity or shared parental leave. There are many opportunities to improve, but it has to be done in the correct sequence for these initiatives to be sustainable.

Every business can always do more, and my team and I will work to drive our journey forward.

Research from Women in Rail (UK) showed that 16% of people who work in the rail industry are women, but only 2% of women in the railway industry are engineers. What are the HR challenges while hiring more women engineers in the rail workforce?

On the one hand, it is perception, and on the other is the real struggle in the supply of candidates. Let me explain further.

When you say 'jobs in rail,' the image that most people think of is 'men on tracks,' but the reality is that signalling and digital business are the fastest growing segments at Hitachi Rail, and the reality of these roles looks very different. For example, we have women software engineers working on blockchain and cybersecurity and other cool stuff across the globe.

So, as a rail company and an industry, it is our responsibility to address this perception. If we work harder and can change the image from being an old and conservative engineering industry to IT, software, digital and sustainable mobility – we can break down one of the biggest barriers preventing us from being a rich and diverse workforce.

We already know that regardless of background, potential employees are highly interested in Hitachi Rail's commitment to the sustainability agenda. We need the best and brightest talent to help us make progress.

Regarding our pipeline of talent, it is our role as a global business to encourage more girls and women to take up STEM subjects at school and vocational training. For this, I believe it is very important to the industry to celebrate its role models – not just on International Women's day, but as part of 'business as usual' activities and outreach to schools, colleges, and universities.

This month we are celebrating the women who are role models in our business. Read more about their stories - Get ready to be inspired!

Imani Lawson, our award-winning Installation Engineer in North America, was recently recognised as one of the "10,000 Degrees" alumni for her impact as a change-maker within her local community.

Ying Cen Tee, our Systems Integration Engineer, who joined us as a Graduate Engineer in London, learn more about her career journey.

Q: Why is it important to address the gender gap and include more women in the rail sector? And how are we doing this at Hitachi Rail? 

Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DEI) is a source of competitive advantage and drives innovation and growth – plenty of research shows that more diverse teams outperform homogenous teams. But to get a truly diverse workforce, we need to build an inclusive culture, and that's something that the Hitachi Group as a whole is focusing on more and more. If we get it right, we can better meet our customer's needs and drive our company's sustainable growth.

At Hitachi Rail, our DEI agenda is focused on three main areas.

  1. Talent - how we attract, develop, and retain diverse employees. We have career days, early career programs, internship opportunities, STEM partnerships, and campus drives, through which we build awareness about the rail sector and change the perception of the rail industry.

  2. Policies and processes - we constantly review our people's policies and processes to ensure they are free from bias and understand what we can do to better to provide a level playing field in the opportunities we offer our people.

  3. Building an inclusive culture – This is about how we educate ourselves about the power of diversity, how to build an inclusive workplace, and recognise and eliminate unconscious bias. Culture is also about supporting and celebrating the diversity we have in our business through awareness days like International Women's Day.

We hope you enjoyed this interview with Rob Luijten, our CHRO, and learned about our journey to make Hitachi Rail a work environment where everyone has a voice, feels equal, and has a wealth of opportunities to thrive.

To find out more about how you can join us visit our careers site.