Zoe Sparks driver apprentice6

International Women’s Day 2024: First Bus pledges to double number of women in the business

  • First Bus sets out new commitments and recruitment pledges to increase number of women in business by 2028
  • Halifax trainee driver helps promote national announcement

A female driver apprentice with First Bus in West Yorkshire is helping to promote a national pledge by the bus operator on International Women’s Day 2024 (March 8) - double the number of women in the business in the next five years.

Zoe Sparks, who is based at its Halifax depot, is among the first-ever group of driver apprentices to begin the training programme, which is being piloted in the region.

She said: “I’ve really enjoyed all aspects of the training, the variety and the extra support from experienced bus drivers.

“I’m really looking forward to being part of the community, meeting new people from all walks of life and getting on with the job.”

On International Women’s Day 2024, First Bus is making bold commitments on gender – to double the number of women in the business in the next five years. Furthermore, in line with the FTSE Women Leaders recommendations, First Bus also aims to have 40% of senior leadership roles filled by women by 2028. 

To reach this goal, First Bus is making two ambitious new recruitment pledges: 

  • All senior hires (roles that are Staff Manager and above), in their first interview, will face a balanced panel of female and male interviewers. * 
  • All senior hires (roles that are Staff Manager and above) will have a 50:50 split at shortlist stage. * 

The pledges come as First Bus seeks to attract even more women into the business after successfully doubling the number of women in the business over the past five years.  

On International Women’s Day, it is important to recognise and celebrate the achievements of all our female colleagues. Women work across a variety of roles throughout the business, and we are delighted to showcase the opportunities a career in the bus sector offers and to inspire the next generation of female colleagues to achieve their goals.  

In an industry like the transport sector, which is heavily dominated by men. we recognise that allyship has a huge role to play in achieving true gender parity and it is essential for the business if it is to achieve its goals. 

Janette Bell, Managing Director at First Bus, said: “This latest milestone is only the next step in our journey, but I am proud we are now putting these pledges in place to help us achieve even more.  

“Our ambition is that by 2028, 20% of our business will be made up of females. This would see us doubling the number of women in the business within the next five years, as we have done over the past 5 years. We want First Bus to be a place where our people feel welcome, can be their true selves and succeed.  

“I'm proud of the work we're doing and proud of the women who work alongside me in all areas of the business. We recognise that there is still more to do, and this is a challenge that we are not afraid to address.”  

Louise Cheesman, Chair of Women in Bus and Coach, added: “It’s so important to see businesses like First Bus not only acknowledge the work they have to do to reach gender parity, but also to show real commitment to how they will achieve it.”  

Sonya Byers, CEO of Women in Transport, said: “It is great to see the hard work paying off for everyone at First Bus as they continue to transform their business to attract more women than ever before. The pledges they are making have the potential to make a real difference and aim to attract even more women to join one of the UK's biggest bus operators and into the Transport industry for a rewarding career.”   

For more information, please go to https://www.firstbus.co.uk/international-womens-day 




Notes to editors

Notes to Editors  

*Wherever possible. Not possible in every scenario.  

First Group recently published their latest Gender Pay Gap report for 2023 and you can find the full report here: FirstGroup GEPG Report 2023 (firstgroupplc.com)  

About First Bus  

At First Bus, we are on a mission to grow bus usage. We will get behind initiatives that move people out of cars and onto bus.   

We are one of the UK’s largest bus operators, delivering over a million passenger journeys daily for the communities we serve.   

Transforming our business for the better, we are putting our people and customers at the heart of all we do.  We are all about making journeys easier for our customers, which is why we were the first national bus operator to rollout Tap On, Tap Off payment technology across our entire UK fleet of 4500 buses. Our First Bus app has also been voted ‘best-in-class’ amongst UK bus operators.   

First Bus is committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035. By March 2024, 15% of our will fleet will comprise Zero Emission Buses (ZEBs).   

We are passionate about giving back to the communities we serve, which is why we are helping local businesses to progress their own decarbonisation journeys with access to our charging hubs while our buses are on the road.  

We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland, Specialist Passenger Solutions, First Travel Solutions and Ensignbus.   

First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.