Solomon Airlines today marked International Womens Day 2022 with the airline’s inaugural IWD ‘Round Table’, an event bringing together 26 women from various departments across Domestic Flight Operations, Cabin Services, Commercial, Finance and Human Resources coming together to discuss how to make a difference for women and girls of the Solomon Islands.
The concept of a Round Table is a forum where no individual claims precedence over the others, all views are heard and shared and everyone’s input is valued. The theme of this year’s International Womens Day around the world is ‘Breaking the Bias’ explained on the IWD website that “whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. Action is needed to level the playing field.”
International Women’s Day marked since 1911 is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also marking a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
“Within Solomon Airlines, meetings such as the one held today are all a part of ensuring our female leaders have the structure, opportunity and a clear voice recognised by airline management, to input into the direction of the airline,” said Monica Utukana, Human Resources Manager.
“The objective of our ongoing Round Table is to address any issues in the workplace that affect women’s progression in a fair and equal way. “One area we are discussing is inequality in terms of gender representation in leadership and our intention to fully support the identification of potential candidates through training. “This way we can create a progression plan to also identify ideal female candidates to develop for leadership roles within the company,” she said.
“We will be looking across Solomon Airlines, starting with Cargo, Maintenance and Airworthiness and Ground Operations,” she added. “This is also a forum through which to provide clear advice regarding circumstances like maternity leave, and staff retention, to support the needs and career progression of women in our workplace.
“Today marked the formation of a committee comprised of female department leaders to formulate initiatives that will improve Solomon Airlines as well as the standing of women in our company.
“The committee will identify initiatives where we can utilise the unique skillsets of female staff members to improve workplace morale and environment. Women are known for their creative and emotional intelligence, which can be lost or not recognised as an asset, and particularly a risk in a country like Solomon Islands where we have so many traditional structures.
“Through a regular gathering of female leaders recognised by Solomon Airlines management, we can push forward new ways, opportunities and appreciation of the contribution women can make in our business, and by doing so break the bias that we believe is engendered in our society.,” she said.
“Particularly in this day and age, with the COVID-19 pandemic and many other global events occurring, the survival of our company and the future of our country requires creative solutions. “We believe it is time to recognise and better utilise the natural aptitudes and strength of women everywhere.”
Solomon Airlines CEO Brett Gebers agreed “Solomon Airlines recognises and values all the women that are a part of our business, with many in crucial leadership roles,” he said. “With only 29% of our staff being female, and only 3% of our leaders currently being female, we have a very tall mountain to climb for equality.
“The establishment of the Round Table and giving a voice and opportunity for women in our business to raise ideas to management and to be heard, is a crucial step in that direction. “Through this and other initiatives such as our anti-Violence Policy and Monthly Wellness Initiatives in the last few years, we are looking to support the wellbeing of all our staff.
“We have also introduced an internal bi-monthly incentive for staff in September last year, which through management nominations, recognises key performers.
Both winners of the incentives through to the end of 2021 were female members of our staff. “I am proud of the contribution of all of our staff regardless of gender and would certainly add that the women of Solomon Airlines deserve to not just be acknowledged today on International Womens Day, but recognised every day as key contributors to the success of our national carrier,” he said.