South African Civil Aviation director Poppy Koza has been awarded the Inspirational Role Model award at the start of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) air summit in Istanbul today.
She was part of the IATA Diversity & Inclusion Awards announcement. The other two recipients were:
Camila Turrieta – chair of the diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion committee of the Air Line Pilots Association or ALPA and First Officer JetBlue Airways was awarded the High Flyer award.
Virgin Atlantic Airways won the Diversity & Inclusion Team award.
Qatar Airways is the sponsor of the Diversity & Inclusion Awards for the fifth consecutive year. Each winner receives a prize of (US) $25,000, payable to the winner in each of the categories or to their nominated charities.
The 2023 IATA Diversity & Inclusion Awards were presented during the World Air Transport Summit (WATS) which followed the 79th IATA Annual General Meeting in Istanbul, Türkiye.
The international respect for Poppy Khoza was evident in her unanimous election to serve as president for the 41st Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation in 2022. She was the first ever woman to hold that role in ICAO’s 78-year history.
At SACAA, Khoza’s work focuses on providing equal opportunities for women and she has led the transformation of the organisation which now boasts women in 50% of executive roles. In her work, Khoza spares no effort in mentoring and coaching other women to challenge the status quo and create a more gender-balanced aviation industry.
She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Aviation Sector and Regional Leader Award, Best Chief Executive Officer Award (2015 and 2018). She was also named the Business Leader of the Year during the annual Oliver Empowerment Awards (2018).
High Flyer: Camila Turrieta is the voice for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives for the association’s 63,000 pilots at 40 airlines. She leads ALPA’s efforts to use gender inclusive terms, expand the Association’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy to promote an environment of inclusiveness in the piloting profession. This led to the FAA requesting her assistance in creating an inclusive culture through positive regulatory changes within the aviation sector.
Camila is a leader and mentor through her work with non-profit affinity organisations such as the Latino Pilots Association, Organisation of Black Aerospace Professionals, Women in Aviation, and the International Society of Women Airline Pilots which have the common goal of promoting the piloting profession to underrepresented and marginalized communities.
All this led Camila to receive the President’s Call to Service Award under former US Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama.
Virgin Atlantic Airways is a true pioneer in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. To support the refresh of the airline’s “Be Yourself” strategy, the company introduced bold changes which included:
Revising policies to allow visible tattoos while in uniform,
Launching the reasonable workplace adjustment policy to ensure its employees with disabilities get the support they need,
Transforming recruitment to remove barriers by focusing on inclusion and accessibility.
These changes were supported with digital training to create awareness and enable confident conversations among employees on the Be Yourself strategy. As a result of the successful implementation of the Be Yourself strategy, Virgin Atlantic’s internal employee network membership has increased over 120% while the company’s employee engagement scores for inclusion increased by 6 percentage points.
Alongside this, Virgin Atlantic Airways relaunched its pioneering “Passport to Change” program, which aims to address inequity in educational learning within local communities.
“In their fourth year, the IATA Diversity & Inclusion Awards play an important role in recognising the work done by those who go above and beyond in engraining diversity and inclusion in the aviation industry. Through breaking taboos to introducing innovations and changing the status quo, this year’s winners exemplify the true nature of the industry: resilience, persistence and unhindered motivation to drive change,” said Karen Walker, editor in chief, Air Transport World and chair of the judging panel.
The other members of the judging panel include the winners of the 2022 awards: Güliz Öztürk, CEO, Pegasus Airlines; Kanchana Gamage, founder and director of the Aviatrix Project, and Alina Aronberga, SVP human resources, airBaltic.
“I congratulate the winners of the 2023 awards. By their example, they are leading the way to a gender balanced aviation industry. They have pushed boundaries to demonstrate that diversity and inclusion is fundamental to business success. 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 Willie Walsh, IATA director general.