The CEO also challenged the assembled aviation professionals at IATA’s AGM to do more in the advancement of women.

Christopher Luxon

By Patrick Appleton

Christopher Luxon saluted Air New Zealand’s employees after the airline was named as the winner of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Diversity & Inclusion Team Award.

“It’s a great honour to be able to receive this award on behalf of 12,500 really diverse Air New Zealand employees,” said Luxon.

Receiving the accolade, the airline CEO said the company made a commitment to improving gender diversity throughout the organization not just because it is “the right thing to do”, but that it also made strong business sense.

“When you look at the research, companies that have a top quartile ethnic diversity leadership group have a 33% more likely chance of delivering a higher than average market share,” he told the audience at IATA’s AGM in Seoul, South Korea. 

It’s time for powerful, decent men who have the influence to step up alongside women and advance the case for gender equality

“When you look at top quartile gender diversity companies, they deliver up to 38% more than the average market share across the piece.”

Air New Zealand won the inaugural award thanks to a program that focused on gender and accelerating the advancement of women, with a Women in Leadership Program designed to empower women to realize their full potential while working at the carrier. 

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% currently.

Despite the success, Luxon challenged the assembled aviation professionals—including CEOs, executive members and senior leadership—to do more in the advancement of women.

He called on other airline CEOs to join him in demanding that women be given more opportunities to sit on panel discussions at conferences.

“Something we can do, certainly as CEOs and as men in the aviation industry, is to make a ‘panel pledge’ not to speak at places where we don’t have women sitting on that panel,” Luxon explained.

“It is important that women are seen and heard in our industry and in our forum. 

There’s certainly a lot we can do around pay so that women are paid the same as men for doing the same job

“For too long women have led the charge advocating for gender equality and I think it’s time for powerful, decent men who have the influence to step up alongside women and advance the case for gender equality.”

Luxon added that the aviation industry can do much together to address issues facing women, including personal development and management, and stressed that closing the pay gap is vital if the industry is seen to be taking the issue of gender diversity seriously.

“There’s certainly a lot we can do around pay so that women are paid the same as men for doing the same job,” he said.

“It’s a basic construct, but we need to start there by fixing that up and getting it done right.”

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