At the heart of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays are our people.
They deliver our Virgin magic and famous splashes of red on a daily basis and have made our company what it is today. So it’s our priority to do the best for them, regardless of gender.
We’re committed to being a fair, diverse and inclusive employer and this is reflected in the fact neither Virgin Atlantic nor Virgin Holidays has an equal pay issue. Irrespective of gender, whether it’s our pilots, engineers, cabin crew or our office based employees, we have equal pay between men and women for equal work. However, our gender pay gap is higher than we want it to be and we’re working hard to put initiatives in place to change that.
First, it’s important to understand the context of our results.
Certain professions in the aviation industry, which are traditionally influenced by gender demographics, create the largest single impact on our results. In the UK, 94% of pilots are male while only 15% of engineering and technology undergraduates are women. Virgin Atlantic falls in line with these industry trends: the majority of our pilots and engineers are male and these jobs pay high salaries. Meanwhile, many of the women in our organisation are cabin crew or in retail and customer service, positions tending to have lower average pay. This skills divide, sadly still systemic in the UK workforce, helps to explain the vast majority of our gap. However, we also recognise that we haven’t had as much progress as we would like with women in leadership roles, leading to a gender imbalance in senior positions, a trend observed in many UK businesses.
Whilst both our skills and leadership demographics are in line with the industry average, we’re not an average business. We’re committed to reducing our gap by correcting some of the issues in our workforce. We know we can’t do this overnight or instantly fix the unconscious biases that continue to exist in society, but we’re working hard to make a difference.
We’ve already launched Be Yourself, our Diversity and Inclusion plan for our people. Through this plan, we’re focused on attracting and developing a more diverse workforce, ensuring we create a truly inclusive environment.
Our commitments are:
A more diverse workforce: To better reflect the communities we work in and customers we serve, by 2022 we will have:
- A 50/50 balance of men/women in leadership roles
- 12% BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) representation across our business
Both of these ambitions represent a 50% increase on our equivalent position today, where 34% of our leaders are women, and we have an 8% BAME representation. We’ll achieve this by focusing on attracting more diverse candidates through our recruitment processes, with goals for minimum numbers of external shortlisted women for engineering and pilot positions, and for minimum female representation on our pilot cadet scheme, engineering and business apprenticeship programme. Meanwhile we’re working at a local level with schools and universities to encourage more women into STEM-related careers. Through open days and careers fairs we expect to reach 10,000 students this year.
An inclusive environment: We want to help all of our people to be at their best and flourish. We’ve started a mentoring programme for our leaders and have accreditation to deliver a ‘Springboard’ programme guiding aspiring women to accelerate their career paths. Our women and LBGT+ networks are already providing support and my team and I will be listening to their challenges and suggestions for improvements.
Increased capability and awareness: We’ll develop our leadership capability and tackle unconscious bias by investing in our managers to build the right approach. All 2,000 of our people leaders will experience a transformational programme helping them create an inclusive environment for all employees to flourish.
It’s an honour to lead a team where almost 90% of our people tell us they feel proud to work for Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays, and 95% say they care about the future of our business. That’s what makes it so important to show our people that we care about their futures too. We must make every effort to celebrate individuality, create amazing experiences for our people, and celebrate everyone bringing their true self to work.
I welcome the introduction of Gender Pay Reporting, to hold us to account for this critical issue and I’m determined that this will be a catalyst for change at Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays.
I look forward to working with our partners and our people to improve our results moving forward.
Craig Kreeger, CEO, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays