With 2023 now in the rearview, our Keolis teams have plenty to be proud of: new contracts and extensions, ridership milestones, safety accolades, and more. One of our focus areas we’re most proud of, however, is our work to advance our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) goals - strengthening our workforce and better serving the communities where we operate.
In 2023, our team worked to ensure we’re making Keolis a better place to work for all our employees and making our communities better places to live. Our commitment to DEI plays a central role in these efforts. We know that employees benefit from diverse perspectives and from feeling comfortable in the workplace. We also know that public transit plays an essential role in our communities and is especially crucial to communities that have experienced decades of underinvestment.
Throughout 2023, our team has put this commitment to DEI into practice with new partnerships and events, refined recruitment and employee engagement, dedicated reflections for milestones and holidays, and public leadership on these efforts.
Partnerships and events
Working with outside experts and organizations is an important way to expand the reach of our efforts to promote DEI in the transit industry by exchanging insights, discussing best practices, identifying industry trends, and more.
In April, we announced a partnership between Keolis and Latinos in Transit (LIT), a group that promotes the development of Latinos and other minorities in transportation. The partnership is geared towards facilitating education, mentoring, and professional development among multicultural employees, industry professionals, and those seeking employment, like the LIT internship program.
Our team also participated in events across the country aimed at increasing minority participation in the transit industry. Female participation in transit remains a particularly salient challenge, as women comprise more than half of transit passengers but as little as 15% of the workforce. Keolis was proud to join WTS International's Annual Conference, which was dedicated to the intersection between equity and transportation. We also sponsored our team’s attendance at the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) Great Connector Conference, the Latinos in Transit Leadership Summit, and participated in the APTA conference's Racial Equity Roundtable. At the roundtable, Keolis Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Nichole Gladney spoke on a panel reflecting on the American Public Transportation Association's racial equity commitment and highlighted her efforts to make Keolis an inclusive place to work.
Recruitment and employee engagement
Building a stronger, more engaged workforce is a priority for the transit industry as a whole, as 9 in 10 transit agencies face workforce shortages. Identifying and bringing down barriers for applicants, especially those from diverse backgrounds, is a central part of making the recruitment process more equitable and better able to meet demand. By making job descriptions more inclusive, attending conferences and job fairs for minority applicants, and spreading awareness of public transportation as a career option, we’ve been able to encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply and increase their representation at Keolis.
We’ve also made progress this year towards expanding DEI activities among our existing workforce, to ensure that everyone is included and given opportunities to grow professionally. For example, in 2024 we are launching an LGBTQ+ employee resource group (ERG), which adds to our existing Minority ERG and Women’s ERG and provides a place to foster professional development for under-represented groups. We also continued monthly DEI lunch and learns, offering opportunities to learn more about ways to advance DEI in the workplace.
Celebrating milestones and holidays
Throughout 2023, we’ve taken the time to reflect on the year’s DEI milestones and holidays that bring attention to the contributions of diverse groups. While it’s important to celebrate these commemorations, we’re also focused on ensuring that their voices are heard and their concerns are adequately addressed.
For example, we launched free bus fares for Transit Equity Day, which coincides with the birthday of civil rights activist Rosa Parks. We also celebrated International Women's Day, Diversity and Inclusion Week, Pride Month, Juneteenth, and National Hispanic Heritage Month, among others. These celebrations call us to recognize the diverse groups that make up our workforce and our communities and take action to support them in our organizational culture and decision-making.
Spotlighting DEI leadership
At Keolis, supporting DEI is the responsibility of every senior leader. In practice, this means that leaders from across our organization have embraced opportunities to champion DEI as integral components of their roles.
While this leadership starts with our CEO David Scorey and extends throughout our organization, Keolis’ DEI-specific efforts are overseen by Vice President Nichole Gladney, who provided her insights into Keolis’ efforts across the organization in Intelligent Transport. For Gladney, DEI in the transit industry includes route planning and scheduling that better meets everyone’s needs: “More trips are taken on transit for errands, leisure activities, and general travel than for commuting. And so, imagine what our networks, stations, and even our buses or trains would look like if their design were led by working mothers,” she noted.
Keolis’ Executive Vice President for Legal, Risk and Compliance, Tavares Brewington, spoke on a panel discussion organized as part of Black History Month focusing on connections and networking, a testament to his leadership in the greater Boston community.
Our leaders also brought their perspectives to the Keolis blog: Director of Executive Recruitment and Business Development Rick Ramirez-Diaz reflected on National Hispanic Heritage Month, and former Fort Lauderdale General Manager Erin Dixon reflected on Juneteenth and National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.
Across our leadership team, our executives and management staff are not only embracing DEI but seeking out ways to connect DEI to their roles, highlight what DEI means to them, and demonstrate their commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive organization.
What’s ahead in 2024
Throughout 2023, we furthered our commitment to DEI by establishing new partnerships, attending topical events, refining our recruitment strategies, enhancing employee engagement initiatives, celebrating key milestones, and spotlighting the many ways in which our leadership has embraced diversity as a central aspect of our organizational culture.
As we look ahead to the new year, we remain committed to following our guiding principles, making Keolis a more inclusive place to work, and ensuring our communities reap the benefit of safe, reliable, and equitable public transportation. While 2023 was a major step forward in these efforts, we’re not stopping there and we are proud to look ahead to many more noteworthy accomplishments in 2024 in service of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at Keolis.
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