Creating a gender equal world

Mieke De Schepper

Executive Vice President for Online Travel and Managing Director Asia Pacific

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I have thought long and hard about the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day - #EachforEqual - an enabled world is an equal world. It sounds great, but what does this actually mean?

For me, the theme isn’t just about gender equality, #EachforEqual can encompass much more, race, religion, culture.  In order to understand better, I would like to take a moment to speak about unconscious biases.  Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. 

I have seen these unconscious biases in my own environment even with my own children, when my daughter was asking me when Dad was going to be buying us a new car… Let me give you another example. As I’m on the road 15 days a month on average, my husband takes on a lot of the responsibilities at home for which I am very grateful. I also have a lot of respect for him because it's not always easy. Schools and classrooms are quite 'mummy centric' and can be quite discriminating against men. Mothers need to be inclusive of such men who step up and take on the lion's share of managing their children's school activities. Up until now, we still seem to be stuck in the phase of passing judgements on how families are run - there’s a lot of social pressure from men to do ‘the men thing’, while for women, they get sidelined if they don’t all spend time at school. So really, inclusion should work both ways.

Creating a gender equal world is tough because it means breaking the stereotype and more importantly realizing that it is not only women in the workplace who make gender equality possible, but in fact society as a whole. Often men ask me how to support gender equality, my answer: it starts at home, by supporting and encouraging their wives and daughters.

A reportlaunched last year showed the shares of companies with more women managers delivered higher returns, while a greater number of women executives was correlated with stronger revenue growth and higher profit margins.  It has been proven several times that a diverse workforce coupled with an inclusive culture drives innovation and better business results.

This is something we very much believe in at Amadeus, as a company, we are passionate about supporting women to progress to leadership positions and take steps to ensure that all employees have equal career opportunities. Whether it is allowing flexible working hours for men and women to suit family commitments for example or monitoring equal pay closely so that all our salary systems, reviews and processes are designed to avoid any gender-based discrimination, we understand the proactive approach needed to create an inclusive environment for all genders.

Even at the initial stage of ensuring the talent pool isn’t too male dominated, Amadeus takes some necessary steps. We encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM by supporting global initiatives such as GirlsWhoCode that helps young women who have decided on a career in tech excel and Inspiring Girls that gives 10-15-year-old girls role models and the chance to talk to women who are succeeding in traditionally male-dominated careers.

As the theme of this year's International Women's Day campaign advocates, it's only collectively that each one of us can help create a gender equal world. So let's show our commitment as a society to break the stereotypes, fight the biases, judge less and accept more! Let's be #EachforEqual!

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