Building tomorrow’s workforce today

1/28/2021 Freight-rail industry 'leans in' to diversity and inclusion

If the past few years are any indication, the North American freight-rail industry is making strides in efforts aimed at creating a more equitable, diverse and inclusive workforce.

Two prominent examples: In 2019, Canadian Pacific’s board elected Canadian business leader Isabelle Courville as its chair, the first woman to chair a Class I board of directors; and last year, BNSF Railway Co. promoted Executive Vice President of Operations Kathryn Farmer to succeed Carl Ice as president and chief executive officer effective Jan. 1. Farmer, who also assumed the leadership of BNSF’s board, is the first woman to run a Class I. 

Most, if not all, Class Is have workforce equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives underway, according to the railroads’ websites and corporate sustainability reports. Those efforts are in response to freight-rail executives’ acknowledgment that the railroad industry must move beyond its image as a male-dominated business in order to remain competitive with other industries.


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