Aviation and logistics firms highlight International Women’s Day initiatives

By Rachelle Harry

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Yesterday, March 8, was International Women’s Day and many companies marked the occasion with new initiatives put in place to facilitate diversity in the industry.

Change Horizon and Meantime Communications started an initiative on International Women’s Day to promote gender equality.

The companies hope their Women in Aviation and Logistics Pledge will facilitate change in the industry and “define concrete targets and an action plan” to achieve gender equality in the sector.

Objectives of the pledge include: raising awareness of female air cargo professionals by celebrating and promoting their achievements in the industry; launching a public database of female speakers in aviation and logistics; setting up forums at global, local, or company levels to share best practices and actionable advice among industry peers; establishing a knowledge centre with industry facts and figures to raise awareness on current gender gaps within air cargo, including the gender pay gap and other inequalities; and open public debates to challenge the status quo; increasing gender balance in senior management and leadership roles; and pushing for progress in broader diversity and inclusion metrics across the industry.

Céline Hourcade, founder and managing director of Change Horizon, commented: “Although the debate on improving gender balance in air cargo has been going on for many years now, there are still too few women in decision-making roles, speaking at, or even attending, industry events.

“We have outstanding female professionals in this industry and their distinct expert voices must be elevated through gender parity.”

“At Change Horizon, sustainability and gender equality have been at the core of our values since the moment I started the company in September 2019. The benefits of having gender-balanced teams span far beyond making a company more competitive, innovative and profitable.”

She added: “A year in a global pandemic has proven that the air cargo industry needs to transform and there is no better time and more urgency to bring the voice of women to make this industry more resilient.”

Emma Murray, founder and chief executive at Meantime Communications, added: “We have been talking about this for far too long, it is time to take action. We want the Pledge to kick-start a movement for change, which will benefit us all, transforming air cargo into the diverse industry it should already be, and encouraging and attracting the next generation of air cargo leaders.”

“Sustainability is in Meantime’s DNA, and I believe we all have a duty of care to this industry, which has given me so many opportunities, and to the young talent ready to join, to make it the best it can be.

“There is no excuse for standing by, we can achieve this by working together.”

All of the companies, associations, and individuals who sign the pledge or support the cause will be invited to join the programme, which will kick off with an introductory session at the end of this month.

Left to right: Emma Murray, Meantime Communications; Celine Hourcade, Change Horizon

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Meanwhile, logistics firm Geodis has developed its Mentor Programme in the Americas through its Geodis Women’s Network (GWN). Initially established in 2018, this year the programme has 218 of its team members involved — both mentors and mentees.

The GWN has three pillars that support its activities: career development and mentorship; inclusive leadership and connecting people. The Mentor Programme builds
on the first of these pillars.

According to a Novosensus survey in 2020, only 13% of senior leaders in the logistics industry are women. Geodis said that it has seen levels of 13% in 2017 grow to 18% currently and the drive to 25% by 2023 will continue.

Mario Ceccon, Geodis’ group HR director, commented: “The logistics industry urgently needs a greater degree of gender diversity and inclusion to recognise, reward and profit from the talents of its female workforce and to improve its record of attracting women of superior ability. The industry’s image is one of traditional male leadership, lack of upward mobility for women and unattractive to aspiring young females.”

“Gender diversity is not only a social necessity but also a corporate responsibility and a sound business policy. Empathetic leadership that balances the sensibilities of all genders brings greater understanding of all human interaction and hence value creation for employees, customers, suppliers and business partners.”

Gerri Commodore, senior vice president of new business and Geodis Women’s Network America’s chairperson, commented: “Based on feedback from those involved in our 2019 programme, we made significant changes last year. Our mentors and mentees wanted more structure and tools to help them. So, we partnered with Impacting Leaders, a leadership consulting company and introduced the Style of Influence assessment. This measure focuses on the natural way people would influence others.

“This year we are employing a new format to complement the original. This entails 29 of the mentees working in small groups. Each will focus on practical applications of our ‘5 Core Competencies of a Leader’ in order to further develop their natural leadership style.” 

In September last year, Geodis Australia-New Zealand (ANZ) launched a Mentor Programme for the Asia Pacific region. The programme is comprised of a ‘6 Steps to Success’ framework that runs over a ten-month period.

Stuart Asplet, managing director Asia Pacific and the main sponsor of the Mentor Programme said: “We are seeking to understand the goals of our mentees and support their potential development within the company. Although the first twenty-five are all women and drawn from the ANZ region, the Program, is open to male employees. A key goal of the programme is to engender a feeling of empowerment, of being noticed, valued and develop confidence.”

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Aircraft charter broker Chapman Freeborn highlighted the “vital role” that its women play in a ‘Celebrating Women in Aviation’ blog series

It also highlighted the findings of a workforce report by Women In Aviation International, which found that 70% of the sector’s workforce are men, 93% of pilots are male — and women are outnumbered in every role in aviation other than cabin crew.

Carol Carini, group communications manager at Chapman Freeborn, commented:  “There’s no hiding that aviation as an industry is male dominated – but things are changing. We all need to do more to show women how exciting the industry is to work in and how many different roles it offers.

“When people think about jobs in aviation they probably think about pilots and cabin crew, but there is so much more to it than that.

“Roles are as varied as being a cargo broker or a broker for passenger charter or private jet hire to being a ground handler. Or from working in HR or PR and marketing, to having a role in aircraft maintenance to name just a few.”

Carol Carini, Chapman Freeborn

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India’s express carrier Blue Dart has launched its first All Women Service Centre.

Located in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, the centre comprises a team of sixteen women in the roles of managers, customer service representatives, security, sales and counter staff.

“This dynamic team will provide customers with the exceptional service quality that is synonymous with Blue Dart,” the company said.

The company is also hiring more women into the Blue Dart “family” and plans to launch another service centre in Andheri. The majority (70%) of the Andheri centre team  be female.

Inaugurating the Kharghar All Women Service Centre, Balfour Manuel, managing director at Blue Dart said: “With our ‘People First Philosophy’ at the forefront of our business, ALL our people – gender, age, race, caste no bar – continue to be a priority within the organisation. Blue Dart has always been an equal opportunity employer.

“We support and encourage our female colleagues to independently run their functions. Blue Dart has nurtured strong women who have seized every opportunity that has come their way and fulfilled their roles and responsibilities to the fullest. From women couriers to our senior leadership team, women have played an integral role in leading Blue Dart to set and achieve new milestones, year on year. They remain an inspiration for many, myself included.”

He added: “Diversity is important, especially with our wide-ranging customer base. We require a diverse workforce that mirrors and understands each customer demographic deeply. This is key to our success in helping us fulfill customer expectations and demand. I am proud to see another inclusivity initiative making its mark in the Blue Dart milestone book.”

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Meanwhile, Qatar Airways Cargo released a statement urging: “There is still much work to be done to achieve the balance we need, particularly when it comes to gender diversity at senior levels. Our industry offers a wealth of possibilities, it is innovative, and it is changing. It is diverse and it welcomes skills and drive. Women not only belong in our industry, they are essential to it.”

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