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2015 Diversity Highlights

Hired record number of



local diversity and
inclusion councils


top 100

Military Friendly


509 military veterans –

15% of total hires


Top 50 Employer

by readers of
Careers & the Disabled Magazine

To learn more about diversity and inclusion at Norfolk Southern visit the corporate website.

NS takes grass-roots approach to diversity and inclusion

Norfolk Southern recognizes the business benefits of a workplace where differing viewpoints, ideas, and experiences are valued and shared. In 2015, NS expanded efforts to promote a more diverse and inclusive company, establishing employee Diversity and Inclusion Councils in each of the railroad’s 10 operating divisions.

The purpose of these grass-roots councils is to promote a respectful workplace, contribute to business goals, and maximize employee potential. By year’s end, more than 200 employees were serving on the councils.

“Diversity influences Norfolk Southern’s performance,” said Tom Winter, manager diversity. “Diversity with inclusiveness enables us to produce better results while attracting and retaining the best employees.”

New employee resource group

As another way to foster workplace diversity and inclusion, Norfolk Southern employees in 2015 formed the
J. Whitaker Employee Resource Group. The group is named for the late John W. Whitaker, the first African American locomotive engineer on the Central of Georgia Railway and the first African American transportation officer on Southern Railway. Through mergers and acquisitions, both railroads are part of NS’ network.

Open to all employees, the J. Whitaker group aims to help NS attract, retain, and develop minority employees through mentoring and networking. The group joins other NS employee resource groups that are making a difference in the workplace and in communities the railroad serves. Formed and led by employees, these ERGs include groups with a focus on employees who are women, young professionals, veterans, and long-time railroaders.

More women joining operations workforce

In 2015, Norfolk Southern hired record numbers of female conductor trainees and management trainees. More than 28 percent of management trainees hired during the year – 48 out of 169 – were women, while more than 7 percent of conductor trainees – 154 out of 2,102 – were female.

“We’re better as a company when we have women involved in our operations because of the diversity of views and experience,” said Mike Wheeler, chief operating officer. “A gender-diverse workforce brings good ideas and viewpoints to the table, which leads to better results.”

At NS’ fifth annual “Women in Field Operations” conference in April 2016, 90 female field supervisors from across the company had a chance to network and talk with senior executives, including CEO Jim Squires, Wheeler, and operations department vice presidents. Attendees included management trainees, yardmasters and trainmasters, mechanical and track supervisors, and chief dispatchers.

Over the two-day session, company executives discussed how these female workplace leaders can positively impact safety, service, and stewardship at NS. Other topics included career development and women in leadership.

“We were fortunate to have this opportunity. This was clearly important to Norfolk Southern, and it was very effective for the women there. Women do feel supported,” said Cassandra Mullee, an eight-year employee who joined as a management trainee. She has advanced to assistant superintendent of Shire Oaks Yard in Pennsylvania, where she oversees trainmasters and around 250 train and engine employees.

Women entering our ranks:


of management
trainees were women


of conductor
trainees were women

Overall, females comprise 5 percent of NS’ unionized workforce and 20 percent of management employees. “NS is making progress to grow those numbers,” said Annie Adams, vice president human resources.

“Being able to compete for the best talent is critical to Norfolk Southern’s success,” Adams said. “Events like the Women in Field Operations session demonstrate the commitment of the operations departments’ vice presidents to retaining and developing women as leaders in field operations.”

In Atlanta, a taste of India

Since 2011, employees in Norfolk Southern’s Atlanta Midtown office building have celebrated Diwali, courtesy of Indian colleagues who share the culture, clothing, and foods of India. About 80 employees and contractors of Indian heritage contributed to the 2015 celebration.

The celebration underscores the goals of the grassroots diversity and inclusion councils that NS established in its operating divisions in 2015.

“The whole idea is to give everybody else insight into our culture and to make everyone realize that we can come from all over the world, but basically we’re all the same,” said Rajshree Doshi, technology analyst.

Many employees wore traditional Indian clothing, including such non-Indians as Fred Ehlers, vice president IT. Ehlers, attending his second Diwali event, said the Atlanta celebration is special because it is an employee initiative.

“This is the best kind of diversity event because it happened on its own without prompting from the company,” Ehlers said. “It grew organically from a group of folks who share their culture and their heritage with the rest of us. It’s a great time to meet and interact with your co-workers.”


Veteran friendly

Military Friendly®, a division of Victory Media, named Norfolk Southern to its 2016 Top 100 Military Friendly employers. The rankings are based on an annual survey that assesses a company’s long-term commitment to recruit, hire, and retain former military personnel; policies for Reserve/Guard members called to active duty; and the presence of military recruitment and support programs.

Veteran hires

In 2015, Norfolk Southern hired 509 military veterans – 15 percent of total hires during the year.

Positive environment

Norfolk Southern was the only railroad named a 2016 Top 50 Employer by readers of Careers & the Disabled Magazine. Readers were asked to name companies they’d most like to work for or that they believe provide a positive working environment for people with disabilities.