Aurizon has pledged to double its female staff numbers within five years.

The major Australian freight rail company is taking advantage of the historically-missed opportunities from a balanced workforce.

Aurizon CEO Lance Hockridge says the company cannot consider itself a world-leading transport business if it does not have a proper workforce.

The company wants to boost its female staff proportion from 13 per cent to 30 per cent.

“Diverse teams operate more effectively and are more engaged. They also create new ideas, new insights and new approaches,” Hockridge says.

“This includes gender diversity as well as differences in age, language, ethnicity, cultural background, religious beliefs and people with disabilities.

“A multi-dimensional program is now underway and being supported at every level of the company. We’ve admittedly got a long way to go but we cannot be the type of company I’ve been espousing without genuine cultural challenges.”

The CEO says the company has a new sense of identity and purpose following its name change from QR National to Aurizon in 2012.

“We have transformed, rebuilt and re-shaped, and have a stronger focus on our customers,” he said

“We signalled early to the market that we were a growth stock and committed to doubling the value of the company every five years.

“We meant it. Everything we have done, including the recently-announced partnership with China’s Baosteel exemplifies that ambition,” he adds.

Aurizon posted annual profits of $754 million last financial year.