IATA launches new campaign to encourage gender diversity in aviation

written by Mic Cullen | October 10, 2019
A supplied image of Virgin Australia pilot recruits (back row) Rebecca Lonergan, Jade Reinbott, Briana Nicholson, Kate Richards, Sarsha Pincini, (front row) Olivia Walters, Ami Love, Abby Toten and Inez Leggett. (Glenn Hunt/Virgin Australia)
A 2018 file image of Virgin Australia pilot recruits. (Glenn Hunt/Virgin Australia)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched a campaign to expand the number of women employed in aviation by 25 per cent over the next five years, with a particular focus on under-represented areas such as pilots and senior executives.

Called 25by2025, the campaign is a voluntary commitment by participating IATA member airlines, with the likes of China Eastern, Lufthansa Group and Qatar Airways already signed up.

Efforts to increase the number of females working in aviation come amid strong demand for new pilots as airline fleets were expected to double over the next two decades in response to the growth in air travel.

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While there was currently no comprehensive airline industry-wide gender diversity reporting, IATA said the best estimates showed women made up about five per cent of the global pilot population and three per cent of aviation chief executives.


VIDEO: A look at the 25by2025 campaign from the IATA YouTube channel.

IATA director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said the 25by2025 campaign was designed to be an enabling framework for actions already being undertaken by the industry, allowing it to continue building on the work already begun.

“Airlines understand the value that a diverse and gender-balanced workforce delivers,” de Juniac said in a statement on September 26.

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“The 25by2025 Campaign provides a global context and encouragement for the many initiatives our members are already taking to address the gender imbalance.

An IATA graphic on the current state of the aviation workforce. (IATA)
An IATA graphic on the current state of the aviation workforce. (IATA)

“I am confident that 25by2025 will be a major catalyst for progress – progress that will set the industry up to achieve even more in this important area.

“Our work will not be done in 2025, in fact, this is only the beginning. Our ultimate aim is of course for a 50-50 gender split with equal opportunities for everyone in every part of our industry.”

In a local context, Air New Zealand was recognised for its work in this area in June when it received the inaugural “diversity and inclusion team award” at the 2019 IATA annual general meeting in Seoul.

IATA diversity award winners (from left) Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo, Christine Ourmières-Widener and Christopher Luxon with Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker and IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac. (IATA/Flickr)
IATA diversity award winners (from left) Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo, Christine Ourmières-Widener and Christopher Luxon with Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker and IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac. (IATA/Flickr)

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said when receiving the award statistics showed getting more females in their airlines was good for business.

“When you look at the research, companies that have a top quartile ethnic diversity leadership group have about a 33 per cent more likely chance of delivering higher than average market share,” Luxon said.

“When you look at top quartile gender companies, they deliver up to 38 per cent more than the average market share.

“Whilst it is the right thing to do, it is actually a really compelling business case.”

And in November 2018, Virgin Australia said 56 per cent of its pilot cadet recruits that passed the rigorous 13-week recruitment process that involved skills-based and academic testing were women.

It was the first time more than half of those selected the airline’s pilot cadetship program were female.


VIDEO: A look at the 25by2025 campaign from the IATA YouTube channel.

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