There’s a saying in German about “Nägel mit Köpfen machen”, in other words “getting down to brass tacks”/ getting serious about something. Women in Aviation and Logistics (WAL), was launched on 08MAR21 (International Women's Day, naturally!), and has since quickly gathered pace and recognition, completing its first mentoring program, and promoting the cause at events such as the World Cargo Symposium in Dublin last October. The initiative has now set a milestone for its further success, by establishing itself as a not-for-profit association on 20JUL22 in Switzerland.
The brains behind the original movement, Emma Murray and Celine Hourcade are the new association’s Founding Members, and Justina Messeiller, Senior Consultant at Change Horizon, completes the Executive Committee as its Secretary. The association’s goals: “promoting the value of gender balance in the workplace with data and insights; advocating for and contributing to defining an industry action plan to address gender diversity and inclusion matters; supporting industry transition by identifying concrete targets and timeframes; and developing and delivering concrete solutions to reach gender-focused goals.”
What’s new now?
As a not-for-profit association, the focus now is on generating funds to enable it to continue and develop projects and initiatives such as its mentoring scheme and the build-up of its speaker database. Emma Murray, WAL Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Meantime Communications, said: “WAL has struck a timely chord with the industry, and we are incredibly grateful for the wave of support and engagement we have already seen. It was time to formalize and future proof the Association to keep the momentum going and ensure that, by working together, we can make a lasting change. Now we are also seeking financial support from the industry in the form of sponsorship to fund our next mentorship scheme, further develop our database, and be able to continue to provide benchmarking and statistics about gender balance in the industry.”
Sponsorship and Membership
Two membership categories have been launched: a fee-based Corporate Membership for businesses of all sizes, and a free-to-join Individual Membership. Sponsorships are welcome, too, since WAL has more plans that it would like to implement. Céline Hourcade, WAL Co-Founder and Managing Director of Change Horizon, explained: “We believe in the value of a diverse and inclusive aviation and logistics sector and our aim is to accelerate positive change towards a more gender-balanced industry. Our driver is the high potential of many women professionals working in this industry set against the lack of leadership and initiatives with concrete solutions to tackle gender diversity. By formalizing WAL as an association, we are guaranteeing its future and the future of its projects, as well as ensuring that there is a platform for growth and new initiatives.”
The original WAL pledge launched last year, has meanwhile garnered 34 corporate and 88 individual signatories, and 59 women have registered their details in the speaker database, which event planners and media can access to invite speakers, panel experts, and interview partners. Following the success of its first mentoring program, there is already a waiting list for the second run due to start later this year.
More women-oriented initiatives across the industry
A quick and general LinkedIn search reveals an increasingly enheartening trend towards more specific activities designed to encourage more women in the industry. In the last couple of weeks, in South Africa, for example, 95 women graduated with an international qualification in logistics and transport from the Commercial Transport Academy, as a result of an historic Women Inspiring Women to Lead in Transport program, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (#USAID), and sponsored by Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) – South Africa. This particular program aims at skilling one thousand women in management, entrepreneurship, and truck driving. Their new skills can also be put to good use in the air cargo industry.
Inspiring women pilots
Meanwhile, over at Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University in Uttar Pradesh, India, students recently invited Air India Captain Zoya Agarwal, the first female commander to fly over the North Pole in 2021, on the world’s longest air route, to speak with them about the industry. Air India also happens to be the world’s leading airline by far, when it comes to the percentage of female pilots: 12.4%, and the country boasts a long history of female pilots dating back to Sarla Thakral in 1936, and India’s first female commercial pilot, Prem Mathur, in 1947.
Leading by example
IAG Cargo also recently ran a Women in Logistics Spotlight article on Operation Manager, Aisha Javid, who worked her way up into IAG Cargo from security management at London Heathrow Airport, where she began around 2 decades ago. She details a day in her life and gives tips for entering the industry.
Sharing is caring. Supporting is motivating, and sponsoring gender-focused associations such as WAL, is a sure return-on-investment when it comes to securing talent for the future of our industry.
Congratulations to WAL on its listing as an NPO, and CFG looks forward to seeing where you take it from here.
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