Imagine going to a supermarket where there is just one type of bread, one sort of vegetable, one kind of fruit, and a whole chiller cabinet of something labeled “beverage”. When people talk about whys and why nots of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, this is the image that comes to my mind. We delight in the amazing variety of foods and drinks we can try in our shops and markets these days. We can sample amazing foods from all over the globe. We can put them together and create completely original tastes and textures, new sensations and new worlds of flavor. It’s innovation! Now why wouldn’t we want a similar multitude of perspectives and voices in our organizations?
The alternatives – one way of looking at things, one standard pathway to success, one model of what a leader looks and sounds like – seem less and less likely to be able to deal with the extraordinary complexity of modern industry and technologies. That’s why we are committed to diversity and inclusion at SITA. With a presence in 137 countries around the world, diversity and inclusion are in our DNA. It’s one of the things I and many of my colleagues love best about working at SITA.
Gender balance is an essential element of diversity and inclusion. As an air transport industry technology provider, we are at the nexus of two historically male-dominated industries, aviation and computing. We can’t change history, but we can, with bold actions, shape the future. Women everywhere, in all walks of life, are making history, and a new kind of future along with it.
So this year, on the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March), we asked some people around the SITA world to share their thoughts on this year’s IWD campaign theme, #BeBoldForChange. What does #BeBoldForChange mean to women at SITA? What are some of their proudest “bold” actions and achievements? How do they plan to #BeBoldForChange in the future, and for the up and coming generations of girls facing new challenges and possibilities?
Here is what they told us.
Cassandra Brown, Account Director, SITA Atlanta
Being bold means stepping out of your comfort zone, feeling the apprehension and fear but going forward nevertheless. Throughout my career I’ve found that that the hardest and most intimidating jobs and tasks are the ones that ultimately led to the greatest levels of development, growth and ultimately fulfillment. I would encourage young women to embrace change and to “lean in” to those most uncomfortable roles – the toughest moments are the ones that strengthen and improve us in both our work and home life.
Fiona Khan, B-BBEE Transformation Manager, SITA Johannesburg
I feel honored and privileged to be an instrumental part of driving SITA’s learnership program in South Africa where we afford people, and especially women, the opportunity to learn about the industry through training and experiential learning. With the work we do, we are equally enabling women but developing and empowering them . I reverently believe that being bold is not about being successful, but being significant in making positive changes. My own #BeBoldForChange plan is to be more courageous in my everyday life, leading by example, and being an ambassador for change and transformation through the CSR initiatives that we support in South Africa, in Africa as a whole, and at SITA locations worldwide.
Manuela Henry, Senior Client Service Representative, SITA Paris
Coming from Germany 11 years ago to work for SITA, I did not have any experience in IT, airports, or airlines. I started as an assistant and now I’m a service manager for two major air transport industry organizations. I am proud as I had to learn a lot of new things, especially from technical point of view, as I came from a completely different industry. During this time there were moments when I asked myself whether I should really go on. But I’m still here! For young women I can only say: believe in you. And don’t be afraid. It’s not always easy, but with will and perseverance, it’s not impossible.
Makhosazana Moyo, SITA Foundation sponsored student, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
In 2012 I finished my A-levels (high school) in Zimbabwe, after which I took a gap year working as a teacher and volunteering at Emthunzini Wethemba Children's Shelter. During this time I grasped how bad the economic crisis in Zimbabwe was. Some of my students came to school without jerseys because they could not afford them. Some did not have books to write in. This was when I decided I wanted to be part of rebuilding my broken country. I decided to leave Zimbabwe and pursue a career in aeronautical engineering in South Africa
I took the bold step to leave my country of birth to achieve my dream. I encourage other young women to take a leap of faith, follow their dreams and be an active participant in turning their dreams into reality. I know now that life follows Newton's third law of motion: for every action there is a reaction. In life you must make the first step for change. The world will notice and react positively. If your dreams don't scare you, then they aren't big enough. Be fearless and be bold.
Necmiye Genc, Lead Security Architect, SITA Montreal
For me #BeBoldForChange means speaking up and pairing action with knowledge. When women have something to say, they should say it with confidence. A bold women leader is the one who improves her odds of success by doing the homework that will also increase her confidence and success rate.
Coumba Montambaux, Field Ops Technician, SITA Paris
To not be afraid, to go outside the beaten track, to dare, to jostle and sometimes jostle the people around us – that's #BeBoldForChange for me. When I joined SITA, it was to prepare computers for renewal. Shortly afterwards I began managing incidents, moves and changes for SITA customers. It was very exciting, interesting work, but it was necessary to speak English. I summoned up my courage and started to make calls in English to our support team, and I thank them their patience! I was very proud when after a year of managing SITA customer tickets I was told that the customer was very satisfied with the job I was doing. A few years ago, computing careers were more or less "reserved" for men. Today many, many women work in the field. What I want to say to young women is this: believe in your potential and don’t be afraid to make mistakes because that’s how we learn and grow.