How Women Can Strengthen the Ground Handling Workforce

June 18, 2024
A people first approach and efforts to overcome gender imbalance can help ground service providers find success.
Josh Smith, editor, Ground Support Worldwide
Josh Smith, editor, Ground Support Worldwide

The 2024 IATA Ground Handling Conference, held in Reykjavik Iceland last month, focused on improving safety and reducing operational risk, highlighted the benefits of implementing global standards and reinforced the importance of sustainability.

The conference approached sustainability in an interesting way. In addition to noting the environmental benefits of electric, hydrogen and other alternative energy sources for GSE, the conference also identified human elements to sustainability.

During a plenary session on people’s sustainability, Archana Arcot and Juliet Thomson, chief people officers at Unifi and Menzies, respectively, highlighted important considerations for recruiting and retaining employees.

Arcot noted organizations must put people first to ensure success. While pay will always remain an important component for employees, more emphasis is being placed on career advancement.

Thomson said career progression is a vital element to the ground handling industry, citing more than 50 percent of Menzies station managers started their careers in hourly paid roles.

With opportunity for career progression in mind, Thomson also pointed out an opportunity for the industry to include more women in the workforce.

Menzies, specifically, has set a target of 25% of its senior leadership being women by 2025, and 40 percent of its middle management population being women by 2033.

“To achieve those targets, we have to make our industry more attractive to females. We have to focus on things like flexibility. We have to focus on things like maternity pay and benefits,” Thomson said.

“Crucial to gender equality, representation matters,” she continued. “We have to show this is a workplace that females can survive and thrive in. We have to show females doing the roles that we represent across the industry, and we have to show females as senior levels within the organizations so females can understand there is good career potential within our industry.”

The challenge of recruiting and retaining workforce is not a new task for ground handling firms. But taking a people first approach, and providing additional opportunities for women, can help overcome these pain points.

About the Author

Josh Smith | Editor