Brussels, March 8th 2023 - A Brussels Airlines Airbus A319 flew from Brussels Airport to Marseille this morning with two women in the cockpit. Before departure, the passengers' baggage was also handled by an all-female team from Alyzia and the flight was boarded by an all-female passenger services team from Brussels Airlines. With this symbolic flight on International Women's Day, the Belgian airline highlights the importance of gender equality and inclusion.
On this 112th International Women's Day, Brussels Airlines once again highlights the importance of a world where men and women are equal. That is why Captain Catherine, First Officer Justine and cabin crew members Hilke, Kedy and Maureen are operating flight SN 3597 to Marseille today. Among the cabin crew, one man is also symbolically travelling with them, Christophe.
"Over recent years Brussels Airlines has been working towards more gender equality between men and women, an ambition we are committed to," says Cedric Vanasbroeck, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Brussels Airlines. "But inclusion in the broader sense is also high on our agenda. Everyone is welcome in our open-minded and multicultural company, whatever their gender, age, origin, religion and sexual orientation may be."
More than half of the employees are women
Over half (53%) of the staff at Brussels Airlines today are women. Although there is still room for more balance across all departments (except for cabin crew and airport passenger services staff with respectively 72% and 75% women), Brussels Airlines is among the leaders in aviation. For instance, for the time being, one in ten pilots at Brussels Airlines is a woman, which is almost double the number usually found in the aviation industry (5 to 6%). Also the percentage of women in management positions is with 35% higher than the average and well above the Gender Balance targets for leadership roles as defined by IATA (International Air Transport Association). There is also a strong female representation in the commercial department (56%) and in Back Office operations (47%).
In atypical areas like IT and the technical functions at Maintenance & Engineering, the challenge to bring women on board remains high: in Maintenance only 5% is female, whereas in IT 34% is a woman.
"We continue to increase our efforts to guarantee diversity and inclusion in all divisions of the company," says Cedric Vanasbroeck. "Women's empowerment is one of our priorities. In the coming months, we are actively looking for well over 100 new employees. In that search, we want to encourage women to take a look at our opportunities as they are welcome in all positions, such as aircraft cabin technician, product managers to flight operations officer."
Leveling out the difference between men and women
Isabelle Careme, now working as a cabin technician for some 15 years, preceded her future colleagues. "Both in education and at Brussels Airlines you see that these days everything is being done to introduce women to all kinds of jobs. Today, I don't feel any difference between my male colleagues and myself either. What you do see is that some passengers are still surprised to see a woman on board doing technical work in the cabin. That always makes me smile. So it is often a difference of culture across generations. I am still hopeful that the next generations will not make a difference between people."
Catherine Agneessens, a pilot for 21 years and the Captain on the symbolic flight to Marseille, also experiences that within society, some views on women can sometimes still be old-fashioned. "Parents can play an important role in this and make even more of a difference, by regularly giving girls that extra push when they need it. Both in life and in their careers later on. In the meantime, I encourage women to fight for their dreams. Never doubt your choices and your abilities. Always go for it, 100%."
Focus on flexible work schedules
In addition to equality and inclusion, Brussels Airlines strives to provide the best possible working conditions to all employees. The company stimulates every coworker to fully develop their career potential while maintaining a good work-life balance. The HR policy puts a strong focus on initiatives such as part-time work, flexible working hours, internal mobility, sabbaticals and home working solutions.