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Cultural Events

Diversity and Inclusion - Thrive - Don't just work here, thrive here.

Lunar New Year


The Lunar New Year event celebrates cultural diversity of Atlanta workplace.

Approximately 230 Atlanta employees experienced Norfolk Southern’s second Lunar New Year celebration. Attendees enjoyed traditional red decorations, fantastic performances, delicious food, and a variety of cultural activities.

Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is one of the most important traditional holidays in many Asian countries such as China, Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Citizens welcome good luck for the coming year and wish happiness and health for family and business. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog, which symbolizes loyalty and honesty.

Jim Squires, chairman, president and chief executive officer; Mike Wheeler, executive vice president and chief operating officer; a nd Fred Ehlers, vice president and chief information officer joined the celebration and presented speeches. 


“This is a great event for the Goode Building,” said Ehlers, a strong supporter of the Diversity and Inclusion program. “Our Diversity and Inclusion program has prospered because it is organic and mostly employee-initiated and managed.”

Ehlers values the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and recognizes that these events could provide NS employees a better experience. “We all want to work for a company where we feel accepted, comfortable, and part of the team,” Ehlers said.

After the event, Squires commented, “I enjoyed the celebration very much. It was wonderful to see so many of our employees eager to learn about Asian culture and enjoy some delicious food. The performances were entertaining and inspiring. What a great opportunity to showcase our employees’ diverse interests and talents!” 

Diwali – Festival of Lights


Since 2011, employees in Norfolk Southern’s Goode Building in Atlanta have joined their Indian colleagues to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Close to 450 participants experienced Indian culture, clothing, and foods during this year’s festival.

A universal symbol of hope, Diwali signifies the victory of light over darkness. NS’ celebration of Diwali promotes inclusion by giving employees and contractors of Indian heritage an opportunity to showcase their cultural diversity. Events like Diwali accentuate the goals of the diversity and inclusion councils which NS established in 2015 on all operating divisions and in the Atlanta and Norfolk offices.

“When I started working in Norfolk Southern’s IT department in 2000, we had a total of five people of Indian origin, and we now have more than 120,” said Sabu Thomas, senior technology engineer and a member of the Atlanta Diversity & Inclusion Council. “It’s a great feeling to work for a company that understands the importance of diversity and inclusion.


When your CIO encourages you to celebrate Diwali every year, it sends a message that regardless of our differences, we are able to learn from each other’s cultures and traditions. By celebrating different cultural holidays we are on the path to becoming a more inclusive company.”

“Diwali is special because it is one of the largest cultural events we celebrate at Norfolk Southern,” said Fred Ehlers, vice president information technology and CIO, who has attended four Diwali festivals at NS. Ehlers, who along with many other employees –both Indian and non-Indian - don traditional Indian attire for the celebration, added that he has enjoyed learning about Indian culture through the annual event. “This is the best kind of diversity event because it happened on its own without prompting from the company. It grew organically from a group of folks who share their culture and heritage with the rest of us.”

Taste of the Caribbean


The J. Whitaker Group hosted its annual National Caribbean-American Heritage Month celebration in Norfolk. The celebration included a Caribbean lunch, island trivia games, and a special performance by the Mosaic Steel Orchestra - all of which made for a truly enjoyable cultural experience for Norfolk employees.


In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously recognized the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. The Proclamation was later issued on June 6, 2006, by President George W. Bush. The proclamation acknowledges the numerous contributions of Caribbean Americans, including more than 4 million Caribbean Americans who live in the United States today.

 Through their Enrichment tenet, JWG desires to enrich the employee experience by sharing pieces of the black community and its diversity with fellow employees. Through this celebration, JWG hopes to have educated and demonstrated the spirit of inclusion at NS.