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By Pat Foran, Editor
Last month, the League of Railway Women (LRW) named Union Pacific Railroad Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer Beth Whited the winner of the 2021 Railway Woman of the Year award.
Whited was honored at an Oct. 19 presentation during the 2021 LRW Virtual Annual Conference.
Co-sponsored by Progressive Railroading, the annual award is presented to a woman in the rail industry who establishes a strong vision and culture of continuous improvement and creativity, overcomes challenges and breaks down barriers.
The award winner also is someone who promotes and supports initiatives to attract and retain women in rail; brings consistent excellence to her organization and surrounding community; and cultivates a safe work environment by demonstrating safe rail practices.
"Beth's commitment to Union Pacific and her focus on attracting and retaining women in rail is a cornerstone of LRW's mission to cultivate and connect women in rail," said LRW President Amanda Trainor Patrick in a press release. "Her efforts have given our industry wider depth and much needed talent and diversity."
Whited's leadership skills and dedication to safety have been especially evident during the pandemic, Trainor Patrick said.
"From developing an aggressive prevention program, to communicating information to UP employees, and implementing online training for new employees to help the railroad continue to move America's goods — Beth did it all while providing decisive and thoughtful leadership," she said.
Over the past three decades, mostly with UP, Whited has demonstrated exceptional achievement and now leads both human resources and labor relations, LRW officials said. Prior to her current position, she served as UP's chief marketing officer, overseeing marketing and sales business units.
Whited's dedication to diversity and inclusion at UP is reflected in her drive to increase the 160-year-old railroad's percentage of employed women from 5% to 10% and boost UP's minority population to 40%. As chief human resource officer, Whited reconfigured UP's recruitment process to change longstanding beliefs that may have impeded the development of a more diverse workforce.
As the rail industry moves toward a more diverse and inclusive workforce, Beth's been front and center, helping to lead the charge. And she hasn't just had an impact on the rail world at large — she's also continued to make a difference in the organization she's helping to shape. Beth's nudging the needle in all sorts of ways, and UP and the rail realm (including those of us who follow and cover it) are better for it. Congratulations, Beth!