Women in Aviation and Logistics’ (WAL) first ever mentoring program took off last week. Now 27 mentor-mentee pairs have embarked on a four-month discovery program and will set the scene for future mentoring waves.
Online and visible: the web call last week, attended by more than 50 participants, marked the official kick-off of the first wave of WAL’s first ever mentoring program – Céline Hourcade’s (Change
Horizon) and Emma Murray’s (Meantime Communications) brainchild that was conceived soon after WAL’s own launch in MAR21 (CFG reported: https://www.cargoforwarder.eu/2021/11/21/exclusive-the-wal-beneath-her-wings/).
16 women and 11 men in leading positions across the air cargo industry have now been carefully and individually matched with 27 international young women who applied to become mentees at the end of last year. Following a framework and guideline established by WAL, all participants have committed to meeting for at least four one-hour sessions between now and the end of April, and to providing feedback and learnings at the end of the free program.
The aim? To inspire, develop and above all empower female professionals to go on to become leaders and board members of any of the many companies within the air cargo industry. The scope for career progression is mirrored in the mentors’ own backgrounds: they work at airlines, forwarding associations, in tech and drone companies, at airports, and other related associations.
The first wave with more to come
“We have received encouraging feedback from mentors and mentees who have already started their journey on the program. Once we have our first wave completed, we will review and have every confidence that we will be able to set up a second wave in the autumn with a view to establishing a rolling mentorship scheme,” Emma Murray, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Meantime Communications, and co-Founder of WAL, predicted. In ensuring that ever more young women are given the opportunity to learn from successful members of the industry, to grow in confidence, and to proactively apply their learnings, as “this new generation of leaders” advances, the air cargo industry will become more “sustainable, diverse, and even more resilient to future shocks,” the press release underlines.
Yet, it is not just the mentees who profit. Mentoring is a two-way benefit, where the mentors themselves gain insights into their own strengths as well as the views of the newer generations. Greater cross-generational and cross-hierarchical connections also promote better resilience, community, and understanding.
Preparing a future generation of female leaders
“I am delighted to be part of the WAL initiative and I hope that my experience of the air cargo industry will be helpful in ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity of succeeding in what is a vitally important global service,” Tristan Koch, Chief Commercial Officer, Awery, and one of the first WAL mentors, discloses. “I was fortunate to be one of the inaugural mentors on the American Airlines' mentorship program promoting female development throughout the company. I saw the incredible success stories that emanated from that and am keen to take that to the wider industry. As a father of two daughters, I also see it as a good investment!” He is a wonderful example, too, of the conclusion that many gender-focused studies have come up with: that men who father daughters, particularly first-born daughters, are far more likely to become advocates for diversity and equality initiatives within business.
Greater visibility and voice
Megha Palkar, Assistant Manager at Cargo iQ, is one of the first WAL mentees. She explains her motivation in applying to the program: “The mentoring program and database of speakers are concrete steps that can change the tone of the entire industry. I am excited to be part of the mentoring program and hope to grow personally and professionally. I am looking forward to learning from the experience of 'people that made it' and making air cargo a more innovative and equitable space for all.”
Growth is an important target for Céline Hourcade, Founder and Managing Director, Change Horizon, and co-Founder of WAL, too. Aside from launching the mentoring initiative, WAL has also created a database of women in the air cargo industry who are available and willing to speak at events or to join boardrooms and juries. The database needs greater visibility, too, as well as more contacts. “This year we want to double the number of female experts on our database from 43 to 86,” she announces. “We are encouraged as at least eight organisations have started to use the database and improved the gender diversity at their events, on their Boards, and in their articles. We now need more women covering all areas of expertise to give no excuse to all-male line ups at events! The average for 2021 was 16% women speakers; we want to meet an average of 25% this year.”
The WAL press release also is encouraging in that it reports that already 113 signatories, including seven associations and networks, 19 corporates, three media outlets, and 84 individuals, have signed its pledge for greater gender diversity, but it also calls “for event organisers to start monitoring and reporting on their gender balance.”
What’s with all the “manels”?
25% is still a very modest target as far as CFG is concerned, though having looked at the line-up of some of the conferences and events already planned and published for the first half of this year, it unfortunately appears to be a realistic one. What does it take to make event organizers wake up to the fact that greater representation is needed? Why are there still so many “manels” [that’s “male panels”, by way of explanation] taking place? With free access to WAL’s female speaker database which covers an extensive range of air cargo topics, there really is no excuse: https://womeninaviationandlogistics.org/experts/ .
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