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Travel industry news

31 May 2019

BY Daniel Pearce

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EasyJet's Sophie Dekkers: 'Diversity is critical for us'

EasyJet’s Sophie Dekkers tells Daniel Pearce how easyJet is absolutely clear on why having a diverse workforce throughout the organisation is so important.

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“We’re doing a lot, but we know we can do a lot more. We’ll keep challenging ourselves, for the good of the business.”

“Diversity is critical for us, as we want to represent our customer base – and our customer base is totally diverse,” says the airline’s UK country director Sophie Dekkers.


EasyJet takes a refreshing position on diversity and inclusion. It recognises some of the travel industry’s issues with the area – getting more women into senior roles, and more ethnically diverse teams in place, among others – and knows it’s not perfect itself. But it’s still widely seen as leading the charge among travel companies.

Changing the balance

“We’re doing a lot, but we know we can do a lot more,” says Dekkers. “We’ll keep challenging ourselves, for the good of the business.”


And Dekkers, who is speaking at the first TTG Diversity & Inclusion in Travel conference in London on 3 July, is the perfect person to tell the story, having progressed from customer research manager to head of change management before eventually joining the executive team at easyJet.


The airline set up the Amy Johnson Initiative in 2015, with the aim of recruiting more women pilots. “When we started, 5% of our pilot intake was female. Last year, we got this up to 15%, and we are well on the way to our target of 20% by 2020,” Dekkers reveals.


“We are also looking at the generation below, and we’ve introduced the aviation badge in conjunction with the Girl Guides, Brownies and Rainbows to get young females thinking about aviation and a career as a pilot,” she adds.

Reaching out

At head office level, and as one of the biggest employers in Luton, easyJet has reached out to the diverse local population, working with local schools to encourage people from all ethnic backgrounds to consider the aviation industry as a career


And the work doesn’t stop there.


“We’ve set up systems to support our teams,” explains Dekkers. “A women’s network has been established for a number of years now, helping females in the business get together, build confidence and discuss ways in which they can move up through the business.”


Specifically, easyJet has been looking closely at how it can move more of its female senior managers into its executive leadership team.


“We still need to work on that,” says Dekkers. “Currently, 15% of new entrants are female, and within the business, 37% of senior managers are now female. We want to increase that, as well as the current 25% of females on the executive team.”


Actions include working with leadership trainers Shine For Women and playing a leading role in the Women in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure organisation, plus signing up to the government’s Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter.


“We want to commit to developing diversity all the way up through the business,” says Dekkers.


“A greater mix of employees in the business drives better profitability. Females are quite often the decision makers in the travel purchase process, so making sure you are tapping into that mindset is critical.”

TTG Media is building on its strong association with diversity and inclusion in the travel industry with the launch of the first ever

 

TTG Diversity & Inclusion in Travel conference

 

Learn about the event here

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