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Thursday, July 25, 2024

“It’s so important to be yourself at work” – HS2 celebrates Katrina’s journey

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When HS2 established its Values Behaviour Framework it made a clear statement about the standards it expects from its workforce and companies engaged in its supply chain. Today, on International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV), HS2 is celebrating the remarkable story of mobile crane operator Katrina (Kat) and the support shown by her employer – HS2 supply chain company Ainscough Crane Hire – and teammates.

As a values-led organisation, Safety, Respect, Integrity and Leadership are central to HS2 Ltd’s delivery of Britain’s new high-speed railway. The organisation encourages an inclusive culture where individuals and teams respect, inspire and look out for each other, and Kat’s journey is testament to the positive change being driven across the construction sector.

By sharing her story, Kat hopes to inspire others who feel trapped, fear rejection, and worry about whether they can ever truly be themselves in the workplace. Hear Kat’s story in her own words 

Having worked for Ainscough as a crane operator on and off for over eight years, Kat’s biggest fear was how her colleagues would respond to her transition and whether she would receive the support she needed when she came back to work.

Returning as Kat was never going to be easy. Courage and acceptance fears aside, crane operators hold vital accreditation to certify they can do the job, and Kat worried her change of name could be a barrier to her return.

With support from her line manager at Ainscough, and the lifting manager for Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) at the HS2 Long Itchington Wood Tunnel site where she works, Kat’s fears were allayed. The team ensured her ID and supporting documents were updated ready for her return, so she wasn’t treated as a new starter and didn’t need to repeat her induction or exams.

Kat describes returning to site and receiving her new name badge as a “euphoric moment”. For her, it reaffirmed that she would be treated as the same person as when she left.

Kat said:

“After my transition, I was keen to get back on the job with HS2 at Balfour Beatty VINCI’s Long Itchington site. It’s an incredible project, and I want to play a part in it, but I was nervous about seeing the people I’d worked with before.

“The level of support I received from everyone made my experience that bit easier. I felt accepted, it made me feel like I was worth it, and I know it wasn’t out of sympathy. These are old school crane guys. They know I’m good at my job and that I add value to the team’s work on HS2 – regardless of my gender”.

Supportive allies have been vital in Kat’s journey, from the welcome she received at Leicester LGBT Centre, to the acceptance and support she continues to receive at work. Understanding her journey, and what she is going through, has been important for her colleagues at Ainscough and at BBV, and Kat credits the team for wanting to know more – recognising that their questions don’t come from a bad place.

BBV colleague Allan describes Kat as “a much-loved member of the team and an asset to the HS2 project.” In a short interview about Kat’s journey (link), Allan speaks out about the importance of inclusivity in the workplace and ensuring that everyone is treated as they would expect to be treated themselves.

Kat is a much-loved and well-respected part of the team helping to build HS2 in Warwickshire. She hopes to continue her employment with Ainscough which has supported her throughout her emotional journey. Kat’s colleague at Ainscough, Matthew Marshall, describes her as “the face of diversity in the face of adversity” in his interview

Finally, Kat feels she can be herself and work and no longer suffers the torment of trying to live two lives. Her story is one of bravery and courage and her advice to others is to “reach out and talk”.

Photo credit: HS2

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