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AirAsia’s new DEI initiative supports nursing mothers in operations

AirAsia Moms on Duty

AirAsia launches new uniform feature for Mother’s Day, enhancing DEI support for operational working mothers with a Moms-on-Duty kit.

SEPANG, MALAYSIA – To celebrate Mother’s Day, AirAsia added a new nursing cover to its signature uniforms for pilots and cabin crew. The cover is part of a Moms-on-Duty kit that the airlines will be providing to new mothers in operations starting this year.

The uniform enhancement symbolically marks the launch of a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative at the airline to create stronger workplace policies in support of working mothers in operational roles.

AirAsia Chief People Officer, Intan Shahira Mohd Shahru said, “Women who work in operational roles face unique challenges. They are required to work shifts in an unconventional work environment. The adjustment back to flying hours while juggling motherhood responsibilities can significantly impact their wellbeing, especially those who are still nursing. Since last year, we began looking into policies and practices that can ease their return to work.”

Among findings from focus group discussions conducted with Allstar mothers working as pilots and cabin crew include the limited time they have to express breastmilk before, during, or in-between flights as well as the lack of a private space on an aircraft. As a result, some have had no choice but to extend their maternity leave on an unpaid basis or to leave the profession altogether. Others have experienced uncomfortable looks either from guests or co-workers.

Intan added, “This campaign is important for AirAsia to stand with our moms and say that it is normal to be a working mother. It is also a part of creating a safe and conducive work environment for our Allstars.”

To address issues highlighted by the crew, the Moms-on-Duty Kit includes a handbook that provides working mothers with guidelines on items such as how to inform their co-workers when they require time and privacy to express breastmilk. The guide also includes references on how to seek in-house support on health and nutritional matters. An AirAsia baby romper completes the set as a gift to their newborn.

Intan said “The introduction of the Moms-on-Duty Kit is part of a broader initiative for AirAsia to boost female participation in operational roles. AirAsia is committed to improving its policies and practices to boost women’s participation in operational roles. This includes enhancing the facilities and offices, as well as improving income security for pregnant pilots, cabin crews and engineers in line with global aviation best practices guidelines published by the International Civil Aviation Organization.”

In 2022, AirAsia extended maternity leave for all its staff in Malaysia from 60 days to 98 days. AirAsia opened a childcare center at its headquarters, RedQ, in 2018. The center accepts children from 11 months to 6 years and currently cares for 80 children of working Allstars.

In its Sustainability Report 2023 published last week, AirAsia reported positive outcomes in its efforts to improve female participation in leadership and STEM roles. Its achievements included increasing the proportion of women occupying leadership positions to 32% from 24% the previous year. Female pilot representation also rose to 7% from 6.6% and women in IT roles to 23.9% from 17.7% in 2022.

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George, in his capacity as an intern, diligently oversees the flow of news, assists in the publication of content, and delves into the strategies of social media distribution. He is currently pursuing his studies in Business Administration at the Athens University of Economics and Business.