BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – National carrier Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) has signed on to a global initiative to increase gender balance in the aviation industry, by boosting female involvement in under-represented areas and senior roles by 25 percent within the next four years.

Dubbed “25by2025“, the initiative — which is organised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — already has 60 global signatories.

In a statement, RB said 43 percent of its workforce is female, with 40 percent of management positions held by women.

“RB is well-advanced in nearing gender balance… shifting the status quo in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry,” the airline said.

The carrier said it will boost women’s representation in senior roles from the vice-president level and above, as well as in areas where women are under-represented, such as pilots and engineering.

Women make up six percent of RB’s pilots, below the industry average of eight percent.

“RB women have already made great strides with breaking the glass ceiling in the industry. We were the first to have a female captain for a national airline in Southeast Asia, and in 2016, our all-female flight crew to Jeddah made headlines around the world,” said RB CEO Captain Hj Khalidkhan Hj Asmakhan.

RB pilot Sharifah Czarena (R) was the first woman to be made a captain in Southeast Asia. Photo: Courtesy of RB

The flag carrier’s top female executive, chief financial officer Nurbahriah Eliza Abdullah said while women fill almost half the roles at RB, there is still a lot to be done to promote gender balance across the aviation sector, and support women as emerging leaders in the workplace.

“Research has shown that gender equality benefits everyone. The more gender-equal companies are, the better it is for both the male and female employees. This is one of the reasons it’s number five in the United Nations Sustainable Development goals,” she said.

RB stated that its main focus is to “promote, educate and increase visibility of female roles” during its career talks and events that champion female representation, as well as inspire female students to take up STEM subjects in higher education.

“It is hoped that these actions will further appeal to the next generation of women who may explore a career in an array of roles within the industry,” the carrier said.

Signatories of the 25by2025 initiative will report annually on their key diversity metrics to IATA.