Qantas chief Alan Joyce has vowed the airline will continue to campaign on social issues, saying its stance has been vindicated by strong public support.
Mr Joyce led the airline’s highly visible promotion of same sex marriage during the 2017 plebiscite and says Qantas’ brand is stronger than it’s ever been, a testament his public position worked for the company.
“What you see in any… surveys that have been done on trust, is people want strong leadership and authentic leadership, whether it’s in business, in politics, in all forms of life,” Mr Joyce told AAP.
Where other brands have gone backwards, “we’ve seen our brand improve in the last few years, supporting marriage equality, supporting gender equality and Indigenous rights,” he said.
“So we’re going to do a lot more of this because it’s the best thing I think we’ve ever done”.
Speaking at the International Society of Women Airline Pilots conference in Sydney, Mr Joyce said Qantas backing the “yes” campaign was about wanting a “fair go” for the LGBTI community.
“We want a fair go for the female community, we want a fair go for the Indigenous community, we want a fair go across the board and that’s why we feel passionate about getting this right,” Mr Joyce told around 130 female pilots from 30 airlines.
The company has close to 40 per cent women on its board and in the senior management group, and has set the same target for their intake of female pilots in 10 years.
This a huge jump from six per cent currently flying with Qantas, slightly above the world average which they estimate at around five per cent, and the more than 11 per cent of pilots in their regional arm.
While there has already been some progress – 13 per cent of all pilots hired across the company last year were female – Mr Joyce readily admits the problems are “deep rooted”.
“We have stereotypes still in society that need to be addressed. And that goes back to young girls being encouraged to be cabin crew, to be in service industries, not to be thinking of the technical jobs and we need to change that stereotype,” he told the women.
Qantas uses female pilots to promote STEM subjects to school-aged girls, has an agreement with six universities to ensure the right pilots are coming into the system and are setting up their own pilot schools in Australia.
“I hope that one day, when you get on a Qantas flight, at every second Qantas flight you’ll hear a female voice. Wouldn’t that be amazing, and that’s what we should have,” Mr Joyce said.