Yap Sze Hunn the Regional Director of Asia & Oceania Region CX, Data Analytics & Marketing Department, Global Marketing Group of JAL speaks about JAL’s commitment and contribution to the society.
What is JAL’s position on Gender Equality and Women empowerment?
As a company, Japan Airlines (JAL), has shown consistent commitment to diversity and inclusivity through various initiatives. The JAL D&I Lab was created in 2015, and the cross-functional team continues to charge ahead with a mission to promote diversity and inclusivity across all divisions within the JAL Group. We constantly work towards providing equal opportunities that transcend gender biasness.
When the world was closed, organisations and countries struggled to help their economies flourish and women initiatives took a hit. How did JAL cope with the setbacks brought by the pandemic?
It was a very difficult time, paved with unprecedented uncertainty, but we learned to be agile and came out stronger for it. There were many excellent initiatives that were borne out of the pandemic such as the JAL FlySafe Hygiene Measures where we enhanced precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In fact, this initiative was awarded the highest level 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating from SKYTRAX, and the highest Diamond Certification from APEX Health Safety powered by Simpliflying.
Of course our finances were hit by border closures around the world during the pandemic, and that inhibited us from expanding and doing more for women empowerment initiatives, but we were still fully committed to the cause. The fact that we built strong, long-standing partnerships pre-pandemic with companies such as IIX Foundation, allowed us to continue our efforts for diversity and inclusivity.
How has JAL expanded its work on gender parity across the world? What has worked well? Are there collaborations in Indonesia that you are very proud of?
Adding our voice to the conversation around the cause is one of the ways we can contribute, and even during the pandemic, we were able to support programs that create awareness and educate key stakeholders about gender equality, such as the Gender Agenda Summit organised by Equality Leaders in the United Kingdom. At JAL, we also recognize the need for leaders capable of navigating dynamic business landscapes. With a global presence and offices around the world, we are able to offer more opportunities for cross-border leadership to women.
For example, a woman based in Singapore could find herself leading a team from Indonesia. Perhaps one of our more successful work-style management is providing flexible working hours to our employees. This empowers our employees with the freedom to choose the number of hours a day they would like to work, as long as they fulfil the minimum of 40 hours each week. By providing both the mother and father with flexible working hours, we alleviate the notion that looking after the child should be the mother’s responsibility.
How do you see Indonesia as a market that pushes the envelope on women empowerment?
The country has made great strides in strengthening women’s potential in the business and professional world, from aiming for a 50% presence of women in high-level decision-making and leadership positions to ending the gender pay gap across different sectors.
JAL has returned for the third time in becoming the SHE IS MORE founding partner. Can you tell us more what drew you to supporting the campaign all these years?
We were initially drawn to IIX Foundation’s SHE IS MORE Youth Art Competition because we shared their vision for empowering disadvantaged communities with social and financial mobility, promoting growth and prosperity for all. In fact, the coffee we serve onboard our Bangkok routes, known as Doi Tung coffee, was borne out of a similar desire to create new employment opportunities and solve the issue of poverty for minorities living in northern Thailand. The Doi Tung Development Project, that we support, takes fields formerly used to cultivate opium in Thailand’s poorer, mountainous regions and transform them into coffee plantations.
We are constantly looking out for partners that have a similar ethos, and IIX Foundation is a good fit. In nurturing thought leadership from a young age, we believe that it will help create the potential for empowerment that will lead to better communities. As leaders of tomorrow, youths are perfectly primed to accelerate the progress of gender equality. The SHE IS MORE campaign provides a good opportunity as it stimulates critical thinking for social awareness amongst youths around the world through a simple yet engaging and meaningful activity.
How does JAL’s partnership for SHE IS MORE align with JAL’s overall sustainability mission?
At JAL, a core value of our corporate policy is “Contributing to the Betterment of Society.” Even as we continue advocating for equality within our own organisation, we often find ourselves looking for like-minded partners that can help us achieve this goal. IIX Foundation has a strong network of partners that have the power to effect positive change globally, and they share our passion for a more diverse and inclusive society. There is strength in numbers and a collective influence will help tip the scale, or in this case, balance it.
SHE IS MORE presented by IIX Foundation, a global youth art competition aimed to celebrate the value of women. Art is one of the best ways to unleash the creativity of the youth and get them involved in a women’s empowerment campaign.