Danielle McLaren - Door

First Bus praised for doubling female workforce since 2017

  • First Bus is included in Close the Gap’s 2023 gender pay gap reporting assessment
  • It highlights long-term action First Bus has taken to tackle barriers faced by women in male-dominated roles.
  • Introduction of part-time bus driver roles has resulted in 50% of new hires being women, a huge increase from 2% in 2017.

First Bus, one of the UK’s largest bus operators, has been praised by Close the Gap, Scotland’s expert on the gender pay gap, for continuing to drive meaningful action to tackle the barriers faced by women to male-dominated roles.

The report, which was published today (Tuesday 4 April), points to actions taken by First Bus across recruitment, progression and promotion for women, and progress made against the four targets set out in its first pay gap report in 2018. All of which has led to its female workforce doubling since 2017.

Through its recruitment, First Bus has taken long-term action to attract more women and has doubled its female workforce since 2017. A significant contributor has been a trial of part-time bus driver roles (15-25 hours per week) which has resulted in 50% of new hires being women, up from 2% in 2017.

First Glasgow bus driver Danielle McLaren, who joined First Bus after working in retail for 13 years, said: “The hours can sometimes seem full on for bus drivers and their families. At First Bus, when my family needed more of me, I could ask for support. That allowed me to design my shifts around them, giving me time to spend with my kids and partner, all with a great wage.”

The report highlights the Step Up and Step Forward development programmes introduced by First Bus as important steps in increasing progression and promotion for women within the company. Over 180 women have participated in the First Bus Step Up development programme designed for women looking for their first line manager role with 27% now promoted. Meanwhile, 45% of participants have achieved a promotion in the Step Forward programme for female line managers in preparation for more senior roles.

Gareth Hind, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for First Bus UK, said: “We are delighted to have been recognised in this way by Close the Gap and it is great credit for a lot of hard work that has been done across First Bus in recent years to make such significant progress over a short period of time.

“This is only the start, and we are continuing to work closely with our teams to engage and create a truly inclusive environment across the UK within First Bus. Recently this can be seen in the introduction of our Balance Inclusion Network, which is one of six inclusion networks in our business designed to bring together people to listen, learn and act on how we can accelerate our journey towards a gender inclusive business.

“Across March and April this year, we launched our Reverse Mentoring Programme bringing together 20 male senior leaders to be mentored by 20 women from across First Bus allowing their lived experiences to be shared and to help our senior leaders understand the challenges they face. We also started our Female Intentional Allyship Programme which will see over 100 women in First Bus, from drivers through to leadership positions, be developed and mentored by our senior leadership in areas including imposter syndrome, confidence, impact, gravitas, interview skills and techniques, and much more.”

Anna Ritchie Allan, Executive Director of Close the Gap, said: “Close the Gap is really pleased to share good practice when we see it happening. First Bus has developed measurable actions based on specific issues identified in its gender pay gap analysis. The company has reported on the same four commitments since first reporting in 2018, and has made clear progress, including almost doubling the number of women in the workforce and enabling more women to progress to senior roles.  We know that this focus on long-term solutions instead of smaller-scale actions is critical to tackling the causes of the gender pay gap.”

More information can be found at firstbus.co.uk/about-us/equality-diversity-and-inclusion


Notes to editors

Notes to editors

About First Bus

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks.

We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland.

First Bus no longer purchases new diesel buses and is committed to achieving a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035.

First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.

First Bus is an equal opportunity employer

First Bus is an excellent place to work with opportunities for a rewarding career. 

We are committed to equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion. We believe diverse experiences and attitudes help us better understand the needs of our customers.

For more information on First Bus: news-scot.firstbus.co.uk

About Close the Gap

Close the Gap is Scotland’s expert on the gender pay gap. They are a charity which has been working with companies to address the causes of the pay gap for more than 20 years.

Close the Gap provides expertise and creative solutions to a range of companies to enable their business to benefit from the gains of gender equality and diversity. Close the Gap is funded by Scottish Government.

As part of its work, Close the Gap assesses employer gender pay gap reporting to identify if the UK regulations are driving meaningful action to address the causes of the pay gap.