How airBaltic Achieved One Of The Best Gender Balances In the Industry

airBaltic was one of 30 airlines who signed up to IATA’s 25by2025 pledge at the recent Wings of Change Europe conference. CEO Martin Gauss talked to Simple Flying about the amazing levels of diversity within his own airline already, and how airBaltic has achieved one of the best gender balances in the entire aviation industry.

Airbaltic gender balance
airBaltic’s gender balance is one of the best in the industry. Photo: airBaltic

25% by 2025

At the recent IATA Wings of Change Europe conference, 30 airlines signed up to the 25by2025 pledge, to have more female leaders in aviation by 2025. By 2025, the signatories have pledged to either have reached the milestone of 25% of females in key positions, or to have increased gender diversity by 25% across the organization.

Airbaltic gender balance
30 airlines signed up to the 25by2025 pledge. Photo: IATA

At the signing, Martin Gauss, Chief Executive of airBaltic commented on the initiative, saying,

“We have been fully committed to achieve gender equality and promote well-paid professions among women. Now we join various other industry leaders in a joint pledge to further increase female participation at the company. As an innovative airline, airBaltic has been driving progress in various fields in Latvia and globally.”

But airBaltic are already several steps ahead of some of the other airline who signed the pledge. We caught up with Martin Gauss on the sidelines of Wings of Change to discuss gender balance at airBaltic.

Gender balance at airBaltic is one of the best in the world

Mr. Gauss commented on his support for the 25by2025 pledge, but also said that airBaltic is already well ahead of this sort of gender diversity level.

“Well we are ahead of that already, but still we wanted to be there to support it. We have been identified at our last AGM as being the second best in the world on this issue. We’re naturally doing lots, therefore it’s obvious that we would sign that pledge.

Airbaltic gender balance
Martin Gauss signing the 25by2025 pledge. Photo: IATA

“We have 50% of females in the company; exactly 50% of our overall staff are female. We have, out of 56 managers in the company, 50% are women. On the senior management level, which is 11 people, we have 45% who are female. That is the highest level in the industry.”

How did airBaltic achieve this?

I asked Mr. Gauss how airBaltic had managed to achieve this when so many others in the industry seem to struggle. He told me,

“In Latvia, traditionally women have different roles other than just being cabin crew. We have identified that … we need to be in schools and to be at universities and to explain what kind of jobs you can have in aviation.”

Airbaltic gender balance
50% of airBaltic’s employees are female. Photo: airBaltic

As well as promoting aviation as a career to girls in schools and universities, Mr. Gauss ensures that the employees he hires are well looked after.

“Of last year’s promotions, 60% were female and 40% were male. I make sure that we do not have an issue with salary. We have a system in house where the qualifications define the salary level, then it doesn’t really matter who is on that job because it is only on the qualifications.”

What advice does airBaltic have for other organizations?

I asked Mr. Gauss if airBaltic was a role model for other airlines, and what advice he would give to airlines looking to improve the spread of genders in their workforce. He told me,

“We are not a role model; we are a very well-functioning organization. It functions so well because of the way it has naturally developed. We didn’t have to force anybody to take this job, but what I do is I take the most qualified people regardless of any gender.

“It’s not age, it’s not gender, it’s the qualifications they have. My team is set up like this and I will continue to do it like this. If it becomes a fully female team, so be it.”

Airbaltic gender balance
““It’s not age, it’s not gender, it’s the qualifications they have.” Photo: airBaltic

For other airlines, the challenge will be in getting the applications from qualified ladies in the first place. This, it seems, is partly a cultural challenge, but also presents an opportunity for airlines to modify their messaging to ensure it reaches females.

“In Riga or Latvia, the perception in the public is, “It is OK, I can get it.” There is no hurdle to work in aviation. Hopefully, the initiative will strengthen the confidence of a good female leader to apply for the jobs.”

The airlines who signed the 25by2025 pledge will be supported by IATA to achieve their goals. This, IATA says, will be done through creating a forum for sharing best practices. IATA themselves are working to increase the number of women in senior roles.

What do you think about airBaltic’s diversity achievements? Let us know in the comments.