In today’s ‘not OK’ news, we bring you the story of this year’s International Air Transportation Association’s annual conference, at which the CEO of Qatar Airlines was present.
Akbar Al Baker was asked about the lack of women in senior positions in airlines, a particular problem in the Middle East. At first, Al Baker said that this was not a problem for Qatar Airlines.
Here’s where things took a sour turn. The reporter asking responded, ‘Well, certainly it’s being run by a man?’
The CEO’s response?
‘Of course it has to be led by a man. Because it is a very challenging position.’
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Unsurprisingly, this answer yielded many gasps and groans from the room.
Al Baker later added: ‘I was only referring to one individual, I was not referring to the staff in general,’ he clarified. ‘You know we have more than 33 per cent that are female in Qatar Airways.
‘There is no gender inequality in Qatar Airways or in my country,’ he added. ‘It will be my pleasure to have a female CEO candidate that I could develop to become CEO after me.’
However, the company has since issued a statement from Akbar Al Baker apologising for the remarks made.
‘I would like to offer my heartfelt apologies for any offence caused by my comment yesterday, which runs counter to my track record of expanding the role of women in leadership throughout the Qatar Airways Group and has been sensationalised by the media,’ he said, The Independent reports.
‘Women comprise almost half (44 per cent) of our work force, and the dedication, drive and skill they bring to their jobs tells me that no role is too tough for them, at all levels of the organisation.
‘Qatar Airways firmly believes in gender equality in the workplace and our airline has been a pioneer in our region in this regard, as the first airline to employ female pilots, as one of the first to train and employ female engineers, and with females represented through to senior vice president positions within the airline reporting directly to me.