Diversity: BNSF analyzes successes, failures at annual forum (8/25/2003)


Burlington Northern Santa Fe recently held its annual diversity forum in Fort Worth, Texas. Entitled "Beyond Diversity: Pulling Together as Team BNSF," the forum focused on race, gender and cultural issues, as well as the importance of diverse thoughts, opinions, actions and talents.

"The power of inclusion is what will make BNSF successful," said BNSF Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Rose in a prepared statement. "Building a diverse workforce is an ongoing process and we are making progress … We want to be successful in attracting and retaining people with diverse backgrounds in thought and experiences throughout all of our ranks."

BNSF randomly selected attendees, including salaried workers who hadn't previously attended a forum, non-salaried employees, and representatives from BNSF's regional diversity councils and affinity groups.

Attendees participated in an interactive workshop to discuss ways BNSF can become a more diverse community. Participants identified three areas needing attention: including field personnel in more diversity efforts, improving work/life balance and enhancing employee development.

To improve field participation, attendees recommended the railroad create diversity action plans similar to BNSF safety action plans; identify diversity champions in the field; use communication tools, such as video broadcasts, to make presentations more widely accessible; and expand the diversity Web site.

Attendees also heard presentations from various experts offering insights and perspectives on how to daily incorporate diversity principles into the organization.

At the end of the day-and-a-half conference, each attendee filled out a "Personal Diversity Action Plan" listing ways they can help improve diversity. In several weeks, BNSF officials expect to mail the plans to each participant "to remind them of their commitment."

Source: Progressive Railroading Daily News