The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the winners of the inaugural IATA Diversity & Inclusion Awards in three categories:
- Inspirational Role Model: Christine Ourmières-Widener, CEO, Flybe
- High Flyer Award: Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo, Founder and President, Young African Aviation Professional Association (YAAPA)
- Diversity & Inclusion Team: Air New Zealand
Nominations for the awards were adjudicated by a panel of four judges: Angela Gittens, Director General, Airports Council International; Gloria Guevara, President and CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council; Mark Pilling, Vice President Publishing and Conferences, FlightGlobal; and Karen Walker, Editor-in-Chief, Air Transport World.
“Selecting the winners was a difficult task. The large number of high-quality applications reflects the breadth of work being done across the industry on gender diversity and inclusion. There can only be one winner in each category, but all the applicants should inspire the industry to move forward. To meet the demands of the future, aviation needs a diverse and inclusive workforce,” said Angela Gittens, on behalf of the judging panel.
“I congratulate all the nominees and winners of these awards, all of them should be proud of what they have achieved and how they are contributing to the Diversity & Inclusion agenda. Our industry is diverse and we need an equally diverse and inclusive workforce to meet their needs. But there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve the balance we need, particularly on gender diversity at senior levels. Today’s impressive awardees both demonstrate and inspire progress,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
The IATA Diversity & Inclusion Awards are sponsored by Qatar Airways. Each winner receives a prize of $25,000, payable to the winner in each of the categories or to their nominated charities.
“Qatar Airways is very pleased to sponsor the IATA Diversity and Inclusion Awards. We know that diversity and inclusion are strengths in helping us serve the needs of our customers and we sponsored these awards to help us and the industry as a whole identify those who are leading in this field so that we might learn from their success. Congratulations to all the winners and all those who were nominated helping to drive important change in our industry,” said HE Mr Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive and Chair of the IATA Board of Governors (2018-2019).
The awards were presented at the conclusion of the World Air Transport Summit (WATS) which followed the 75th IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The IATA AGM and WATS gathered more than 1,000 leaders of the global air transport industry.
Inspirational Role Model: Christine Ourmières-Widener, CEO, Flybe
Christine Ourmières -Widener began her career in aviation as a young engineer in maintenance department. From there she has worked her way up through various high-profile roles on multiple continents, leading her to the role of the CEO of Flybe. One of her main areas of focus includes raising the profile of aviation among young people and inspiring young women to join the aviation industry. She introduced the highly successful FlyShe initiative which is designed to change aspirations and create opportunities for women. The FlyShe program has received coverage both in the UK and abroad and continues to be recognized as a way to address the future skills shortage in aviation.
Christine’s mantra is that “young women cannot be what they cannot see” which is why she uses her position as a CEO of an airline to champion women in aviation at every opportunity, becoming a true role model for young and ambitious women.
High Flyer Award: Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo, Founder and President, Young African Aviation Professional Association (YAAPA)
Fadimatou is a woman with a mission – to raise awareness of aviation as a potential career, particularly in those communities which may not ordinarily be exposed to aviation. In 2014 she founded the Young African Aviation Professional Association (YAAPA) to help make this a reality. As part of YAAPA’s outreach program Fadimatou introduced the Heleta Aviation Scholarship Program to encourage underprivileged children in rural areas of Africa to consider aviation as a future career choice. YAAPA is also an active player in establishing a Community Center in Cameroon which will aim to introduce a Youth Aviation Tech Program for Africa by matching interested young people with aviation professionals and providing them with strong mentorship opportunities.
Diversity & Inclusion Team: Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand embarked on its Diversity and Inclusion journey in 2013. Thanks to the commitment from its Board and Executive team as well as Diversity and Inclusion champions across the organization, the airline established an organization that represents Aotearoa, a place to work where all Air New Zealanders can be themselves and thrive.
The initial focus of the program was on gender and accelerating the advancement of women. A Women in Leadership Program aimed to empower women to realize their full potential while working at Air New Zealand. The airline also created various networks—Women in Digital, Women in Engineering & Maintenance and WINGS (female pilots). The number of females in senior leadership roles has increased from 16% in 2003 to 42% today.
Air New Zealand’s efforts have been broadly recognized with the Gender Tick Accreditation, Rainbow Tick Accreditation and the Accessibility Tick Accreditation. Importantly, 80% of employees say Air New Zealand is open to and accepts differences which is a 22% improvement over 2016.