Etihad Airways has been celebrating Emirati Women’s Day by highlighting the important role that women play in the success of its business. Over 50% of the airline’s 13,000 strong workforce are women and although many represent customer facing, service roles such as cabin crew, the airline is working to improve representation across all business areas.
Take engineering, the cargo business and flight crew jobs as an example – areas that Etihad says are traditionally male dominated jobs. Women working in these areas already make up 36% of the wider workforce and Etihad is keen to narrow that gender gap even further.
As part of its plans, Etihad has been holding panel discussions with its employees to share experiences and discuss ways to improve the role of women and especially Emirati women in the success of the airline.
Despite the negative stereotypes of the role of women in Arab culture, Amina Taher the vice president of corporate affairs at Etihad explains: “Our constitution (in the UAE) declares that men and women are equal in their rights and obligations. It provides equal access to education, healthcare and jobs.”
She continued: “As a company, we foster the talents of our women and men; we encourage them to work together to promote innovation, to mentor their junior colleagues, to volunteer in the community and to give to charity.”
Taher, says Etihad’s goals aren’t just about improving its own business but is part of a wider social goal to develop the UAE and society.
One woman who has developed a successful career at Etihad is Mariam Al Obaidli. As an Emirati citizen, she is one of the 2,859 Emiratis who works at the Abu Dhabi-based airline – over half of which are women. Mariam has trained as a Technical Engineer, joining 41 other Emirati women who have completed the two-year, on-the-job training.
“You should see the engineers’ expressions when they see local women working hard in such extreme conditions, and knowing that we want to be here – they’re amazed by it,” Mariam recounted when speaking of her experience.
The ambition to promote the role of women in aviation isn’t just being promoted by Etihad. Fellow UAE airline, Emirates is also championing the importance of women to the success of its business goals.
Emirates became the first airline to have an Arab female Captain of an Airbus A380 aircraft and the airline also has the youngest Emirati female pilot operating the A380. Emirates employ female flight crew from around the world – representing 24 nationalities, aged from 20 to 59 years old.
And through its National Cadet Pilot Programme, the airline is encouraging even more Emirati women to become the Captains of tomorrow. Speaking for Emirates, Adel Al Redha explained: “One of the ways to support the need for pilots today is to tap into the female talent pool and inspire them to take their career path into aviation which is one of the most rewarding fields.”