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Japan Airlines’ first female president discusses ‘diversity in talent’

TOKYOApril 26 (News On Japan) – Mitsuko Tottori, the first female president of a major airline in Japan, discusses her strategies for promoting diversity within Japan Airlines during a recent interview.

After taking over on April 1, Tottori gave her first solo media interview, expressing modest discomfort with her new role, noting that increased public attention has somewhat limited her freedom.

When asked how she has adjusted to the presidency, she replied, “It’s hard to say; I’m not quite used to it yet. It’s definitely made it harder for me to get out there.”

Advocating for gender neutrality in leadership

Tottori emphasized her desire to be recognized not for her gender, but for her abilities. “I hardly have any special feelings about being a woman. I want to be approached as an individual, and I hope that it will soon become normal not to say: ‘Oh, the president is a woman.’ I look forward to a world where women becoming president is a common occurrence.”

Thinking about a recent incident

A few weeks prior to the official announcement of her presidency, a Japan Airlines plane was involved in a collision with a Coast Guard plane at Haneda Airport. Cabin crew were praised for their calm and efficient handling of the situation, which attracted international attention. “If I happen to meet the crew members involved, I would like to tell them personally: ‘You did a very good job,’” Tottori said. Although the incident resulted in the tragic loss of five aboard the Coast Guard aircraft, all passengers and crew on the Japan Airlines flight were unharmed.

Diversity and inclusion initiatives

President Tottori has been instrumental in shaping policies to support women’s career development within the airline. She discussed the importance of creating systems that allow women to easily return to their careers after life events. “We have been working on mechanisms such as transferring the career credits accumulated before a break and offering part-time work options to those with children.”

With these efforts, Japan Airlines is on track to achieve the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) goal of having 30% of management positions held by women by March next year.

Prospects for male cabin crew representation

Despite male cabin crew only accounting for around 5% of new hires this spring, Tottori is optimistic about increasing their presence: “We are gradually increasing their numbers without setting a specific target. We want to make the role of cabin crew attractive to men as well and choose candidates according to their merits.”

In conclusion, Tottori’s leadership at Japan Airlines marks an important step toward embracing diversity in the aviation industry, underscoring a progressive view of inclusive growth within the industry.

Source: ANN

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