FirstGroup have launched a new advocate network, ‘First connections’, to bring together those who have taken part and benefitted from their personal development programmes aimed at women and ethnically diverse colleagues.
The First connections network allows those who have taken part in the company’s personal development programmes to connect and network as well as offer support and career development guidance to one another. Over time, the network will evolve into a forum where advocates host regular webinars, share experiences and knowledge, as well as promote opportunities, such as job shadowing or mentoring.
The new network was launched at an event held in central London yesterday, attended by over 150 people, including programme alumni, senior leaders from across the business and specialist external speakers.
FirstGroup, a leading private sector provider of public transport, employs 30,000 people across its 15 different bus and rail brands. As part of its commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive business, and to attract, develop and retain talent, FirstGroup offers training, leadership, and development programmes aimed at under-represented groups.
The current schemes are focused on women and ethnically diverse colleagues who are seeking to progress their careers within the business and aim to build the capabilities and confidence of colleagues from these groups who aspire to secure their first ‘team lead’ role or are experienced managers seeking that next ‘Head of’ role, or equivalent opportunity. In addition, FirstGroup run another development programme for high performing women who have been recognised as having potential to move into larger and more complex senior leadership roles within the business.
So far over 500 people have taken part and completed one of FirstGroup’s personal development programmes, since they launched in 2018. On average, 40% of participants go on to bigger roles within the business after completing a programme.
Graham Sutherland, FirstGroup Chief Executive Officer said: “We are committed to increasing the diversity of our workforce, to better understand, as well as reflect, the diverse customers and communities we serve. Our personal development programmes play a vital role in retaining and developing talent from under-represented groups within our business, and this new network will be key in helping people stay connected as well as inspiring others.”
Claire Weston, Head of Drivers, Great Western Railway said: “This programme provided useful insights into my strategic strengths and areas for development as identified by my peers, line manager and direct reports. This has given me a view of how I am perceived and allowed me to focus on areas I can improve on, as well as build upon those strengths I already demonstrate. I have found working with likeminded women has elevated my experience. To know that we have a platform for self-development as well as creating a forum for us all to meet and support each other through our career path is invaluable.”
Read more about FirstGroup’s development programmes here: https://careers.firstgroup.co.uk/development.