Airlines should seize the opportunity of building back from the Covid-19 pandemic to include more women and other minorities in their ranks, particularly in senior roles, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said.
Diversity and inclusion must be a priority for airlines as they prepare for international air travel to recommence at scale, Jane Hoskisson, director of talent, learning, engagement and diversity at Iata said during an online media event on Wednesday.
The industry must also make itself more attractive to the next generation of workers who are more likely to join companies with sustainability goals on their agendas, she said.
The traditionally male-dominated industry has been criticised for its failure to include more women among its top and senior ranks. Only four per cent of Iata's member airlines have female chief executives, according to the trade body.
In 2019, Iata launched its 25by2025 initiative, an industry pledge that aims to boost diversity metrics by 25 per cent or up to a minimum of 25 per cent by 2025. So far, 62 airlines have signed up to be part of initiative, including Etihad Airways, Egyptair, Bahrain's Gulf Air and Royal Jordanian.
Iata is aiming to increase that number to 75 or 80 airlines in the next couple of months, Ms Hoskisson said. Iata currently has 292 airline members, according to its website.
“Women have been adversely impacted and opting out of the workforce at a rate that’s more pronounced then men since the pandemic, that’s of course a double whammy,” she said. “How do you make the industry attractive to women given these challenges?
“In order to attract talent that doesn’t naturally come to your industry, you have to invest.”
Iata will hold a Diversity and Inclusion Award, with applications opening on July 7 and closing for submissions on August 29.