Race Equality Matters is pleased to announce that HS2 have been awarded Silver Trailblazer status!


Since achieving their Bronze Trailblazer status HS2 have demonstrated  a comprehensive continuation of their action plan with strong evidence of allyship and collaboration particularly with the EDI team, networks and HR.  Their Reach Network is supported by several members of Senior Leadership and the Executive board who promote and take part in REACH events. In addition to this, HS2 have created psychologically safe spaces where important conversations  can take place and where those who are ethnically diverse can talk about their lived experiences. Panellists felt positive about the involvement of Senior Leadership.100% of our Trailblazer judging panellists said that HS2’s application demonstrated evidence of continued action in tackling racial inequality and 75% of them voted for them to be awarded Silver.

HS2 have shown a clear commitment to continuing their race equality activity since being awarded the Bronze Trailblazer status and their strongest area was inclusivity and the overall impact this action had both internally and externally.


Actions and initiatives


Events and collaborations

The REACH (Race Ethnicity And Cultural Heritage) Network organise regular events for colleagues, including Courageous Conversations, cultural celebrations and events marking dates such as Race Equality Week (collaborating with Race Equality Matters and encouraging colleagues to take part in the challenges), which they measured success by attendance and feedback. They ensured their supply chain partners were also included in their journey and understanding of EDI and race inequality. 

The network promotes details of the events via the staff intranet which is accessible to all employees to encourage inclusion and wider engagement.  Regular articles are also created by the Network to feature on the Intranet.  HS2 and You is a regular feature and REACH network members are encouraged to submit articles so that they can share information about their culture, heritage, religious celebrations. 


Implementation of leadership programme

HS2 are also in the process of launching a  pilot programme to help nurture, encourage and support ethnically diverse leaders in the organisation was started with a cohort of around 40 colleagues from diverse backgrounds and levels within the organisation participating. 


Integrated work with HR and EDI teams and Senior Leadership

The REACH Network meet regularly with HR and EDI teams to support the outcomes of their Clear Assured re-accreditation and the development of a number of EDI/talent intervention initiatives.

Secondly the Reach Network is supported by several members of SLT and their Executive Board.  The CEO (Mark Thurston) is the REACH Network Executive Sponsor who  also offers guidance, support, mentoring and advice to the REACH committee on a monthly basis and as needs require.  HS2 were intentional about the involvement of senior leadership Involvement because they felt having the Senior Leadership team involved reinforces the EDI message across the organisation.  During Q&A sessions and forums time is allowed for attendees to ask questions of those at a senior level. “ SLT members are not afraid to be asked difficult or challenging questions, which demonstrates that they are open to listening and responding to questions raised about racial inequality.”


Impact and Ethnically diverse Staff Endorsement

Some of the ways in which HS2’s activities have made an impact include:

  • The REACH Network surpassed 300 members with an increase in ally members
  • Measuring the impact of their REACH Network, not just by numbers, but by positivity, inclusion, aspiration and hope generated by their activities, as well as feedback given
  • The network is supported by several members of SLT and the Executive Board and the CEO is an executive sponsor, and SLT members are not afraid to be asked difficult or challenging questions, which demonstrates that they are open to listening and responding to questions raised about racial inequality. Judges felt this “buy-in demonstrated clear endorsement as well as accountability and responsibility”
  • One judge commented that it was “good that all new employees are introduced to allyship as part of their induction” and sessions on allyship are delivered regularly so employees can learn about how to be active allies to ethnically diverse colleagues

Feedback from an Ethnically Diverse Panel

The Trailblazer judges shared some of the highlights of HS2’s work that they thought stood out best. These included: the great amount of activities and events that were being carried out, including to external supply chain partners and not just to internal staff, and clear examples of investment into EDI demonstrated through the updating of the anti-racism policy. They also mentioned the development of the leadership programme for women of colour, consistent collaboration across the organisation, and their commitment to data collection. This is done through their Clear Assured survey to inform decisions expanding on findings to ensure there is learning and understanding.


They also said HS2 demonstrated strong evidence of collaboration, particularly with the EDI and HR teams and staff networks. They were impressed with how they ensured that there was constant communication and regular feedback to facilitate activity across the organisation, showing that they recognise the importance of ensuring inclusivity and creating space so that ethnically diverse colleagues are involved in the conversation of change.


One judge said they had “clearly shown that they have implanted diversity and inclusion into the company”, while another said there is “some good work being done at all levels of the organisation” and “it is clear there is real drive to improve”. For REM, this is testament to the idea of Trailblazers, where we hope and expect organisations to continue wanting to get better and not stop at where they are.


Next Steps…

The future of HS2’s race equality work includes:

  • Continuing with more events, including some in-person and both small and large scale, so their EDI work further improves its reach and impact
  • The Network will continue to work with the HR and EDI team on developing their management programme for colleagues from a diverse background
  • Continuing discussions with the HR and EDI team around adopting the RACE Code 2020 framework.
  • Delivering more allyship sessions
  • Through their approach for a long-term strategy to build the work of REACH through example and discussion and small changes they have been able to push forward through attitudes and behaviours to institutional change and effect change on a rolling and increasing basis


Follow HS2’s Lead: Become a Trailblazer

If your organisation is driving change for Race Equality and you can demonstrate impact, endorsement from ethnically diverse employees and share future plans; register your interest for the next round of trailblazers.

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