The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently announced the recipients of its Diversity & Inclusion Awards, which acknowledge outstanding contributions in promoting diversity and inclusion within the aviation industry.
The annual awards ceremony, now in its fourth year, was held during the World Air Transport Summit (WATS) following the 79th IATA Annual General Meeting in Istanbul, Türkiye.
During the ceremony, IATA recognized two individuals and one airline company, each in a distinct award category: the Inspirational Role Model Award, the High Flyer Award, and the Diversity & Inclusion Team Award.
Inspirational Role Model Award: Poppy Khoza
The Inspirational Role Model Award was bestowed upon Poppy Khoza, the Director of Civil Aviation at the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).
Khoza, the first woman to serve as President for the International Civil Aviation Organization’s 41st Assembly, has made significant advancements in creating equal opportunities for women. Under her guidance, SACAA now exhibits gender parity, with women occupying 50 percent of executive positions. Khoza has actively mentored and coached other women, encouraging them to challenge the industry’s status quo.
High Flyer Award: Camila Turrieta
Camila Turrieta, Chair of the Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Committee at the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and First Officer at JetBlue Airways, received the High Flyer Award.
Turrieta has been a staunch advocate for diversity and inclusivity initiatives, representing ALPA’s 63,000 pilots across 40 airlines. Her efforts have fostered an inclusive environment in the piloting profession and have led to positive regulatory changes within the aviation sector.
Diversity & Inclusion Team Award: Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic Airways was honored with the Diversity & Inclusion Team Award for its pioneering endeavors in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The airline’s “Be Yourself” strategy brought about significant changes, such as revising policies to permit visible tattoos while in uniform and implementing a reasonable workplace adjustment policy to support employees with disabilities. Additionally, they transformed their recruitment process to prioritize inclusion and accessibility. These initiatives, along with digital training, resulted in increased employee engagement scores and a notable rise in the airline’s internal employee network membership.
“Congratulations to three truly inspirational winners. Women are still under-represented in aviation, but with the help and example of these and previous award winners, we are making progress,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh.
Qatar Airways, the sponsor of the Diversity & Inclusion Awards for the fifth consecutive year, presented each winner with a prize of 25,000 US dollars.