He'd only just become the newly-elected Chairman of the International Air Transport Association (IATA)'s Board of Governors but Qatar Airways GCEO, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, did not impress with his comments this week.
He's reported to have responded, "Of course it has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position," when asked if a woman could do his job, at the annual conference in Sydney, Australia. The conversation on Tuesday centered around the lack of gender diversity in the industry when it comes to the Middle East. Even on the IATA board, only six of the 280 airline members have female chief executives.
Now, after a negative response, the airline boss has changed his tune.
"No, I don't believe that. As a matter of fact, [at] Air Italy the majority shareholder has shortlisted women to be the CEO and as a minority shareholder, we are actively encouraging that," he reportedly said on Wednesday.
Qatar Airways also issued a statement where he retracted his views.
"I would like to offer my heartfelt apologies for any offense caused by my comment yesterday, which runs counter to my track record of expanding the role of women in leadership throughout the Qatar Airways Group and has been sensationalized by the media," it reads. "Women comprise almost half (44 percent) of our workforce, and the dedication, drive and skill they bring to their jobs tells me that no role is too tough for them, at all levels of the organization.
"Qatar Airways firmly believes in gender equality in the workplace and our airline has been a pioneer in our region in this regard, as the first airline to employ female pilots, as one of the first to train and employ female engineers, and with females represented through to senior vice-president positions within the airline reporting directly to me."
H.E Mr. Akbar Al Baker: I would like to offer my heartfelt apologies for any offence caused by my comment yesterday, which runs counter to my track record of expanding the role of women in leadership throughout the Qatar Airways Group and has been sensationalised by the media. pic.twitter.com/M07Wczk08B— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) June 5, 2018
But followers are not impressed. Some of them believe he needs to step down from the position while others questioned his blame on the media. See what they had to say below.
You can't employ a man in that position, who's ultimately responsible for 1000's of women employed by Qatar and 1000000's as customers, when he hasn't the sense to engage his brain before such a stupid comment.— derekdavidfoster1973 (@derekdavidfost1) June 5, 2018
He has to go.
I STRONGLY advise your organsation listens to the recording made of that conference, and question why so many people gasped at Akbar Al Baker’s comments. @IATA @iata2press, your comments and releases in the matter would be welcome— Kevin - Economy Class & Beyond (@EconomyBeyond) June 5, 2018
This is how corporates r with women ,v r nearly 50% of the workforce BUT gender pay gap & late promotions are for us 2 ensure there are very few women CEO's,it is because of men like him who have it at the back of their minds that a woman should not cross a certain grade & salary
— High (@talkingcurves) June 5, 2018
"Sensationalised by the media" = accurately reported by multiple media outlets, who have audio recordings of his verbatim remarks
— Martin Leó Rivers (@MartinRivers) June 5, 2018
God I'm bored of these ridiculous PR apologies written on behalf of backwards men who are definitely not sorry.
— Amy Meyrick (@BlueJandals) June 6, 2018
Everyone reading your apology like. pic.twitter.com/MW1d9HAoAj
— Till (@iamths1973) June 6, 2018
He should resign, that's the only excuse we women can accept
— isilino (@isilino67) June 6, 2018
— David Jeřábek (@davidoseq) June 6, 2018