Department for Transport appoints first civil service job share at DG level

Polly Payne and Ruth Hannant named directors general for Rail Group in move hailed by perm sec as progress in "overwhelmingly male" industry

On the right track: DfT appoints two women to directors general job share for Rail Group. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA

By Tamsin Rutter

27 Nov 2017

The Department for Transport has appointed two women to the civil service's first ever job share at director general level as successors to the DfT's newly appointed permanent secretary.

Polly Payne and Ruth Hannant will join the DfT as directors general for the department's Rail Group on 11 December from the Department for Education, filling the position left vacant when Bernadette Kelly was promoted to perm sec in April.

Kelly said the pair would be role models not only for the civil service but also for the rail sector, where women make up just 11% of the workforce and senior leaders are "overwhelmingly male".


She told Civil Service World: “I’m proud that the Department for Transport is leading the way with the first job share partnership at this level in government. And I’m especially pleased that we have Polly and Ruth joining us to lead our work on rail. 

"We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation for over a century, so there’s a huge amount to do."

Kelly was DG for Rail Group from September 2015 to April 2017, when Nick Joyce took the post in an "acting" capacity. 

Rail Group is responsible for developing strategy and policy for the rail sector, managing expenditure on rail services and infrastructure, and oversees the delivery of rail franchises and major projects – including Crossrail and Thameslink.

It sponsors British Transport Police, Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road, the Rail Accidents Investigation Branch and Transport Focus.

Payne and Hannant were already in a job-share partnership with each other working on higher education reform in DfE, and have both previously worked for the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and theTreasury. Former BIS permanent secretary Martin Donnelly described the pair as an "outstandingly effective job share", during an interview with Civil Service World earlier this year. 

DfT said the appointment demonstrated the government's commitment to increasing the number of women working in the rail sector. The Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy, published in 2015, included an aim for women to make up 20% of DfT's science and technical apprenticeships by 2020, and 50% by 2030. 

Kelly added: “Within the DfT we are making progress in encouraging diversity at every level, and earlier this year the department was recognised for our leadership on workplace gender equality by being included in The Times Top 50 employers for Women 2017. 

“But I do see the department as having an important role in challenging the transport industry more widely to do better on diversity."

She said DfT would support a cross-government campaign being launched in January to tackle to engineering skills gap, which will focus on encouraging more women and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to consider a career in engineering.

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