In honor of Women’s Equality Day, Aryn Richey, Communications and Marketing Strategist, discusses what its significance is for DCA-based Flight Attendant and member of our Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DE&I)Business Resource Group Simone Williams.
Aryn: Simone! Happy Women’s Equality Day— I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate today with you by discussing the weight it holds, the progress we’ve made for women’s equality and how you think we can elevate that progress moving forward. I’ve enjoyed learning from you over the last year in our DE&I efforts, and for our readers’ benefit, can you share a bit about yourself and your role within Republic?
Simone: I started my aviation career at Republic on April 20, 2015. Over these last six years, I have been a dedicated member of the Inflight Care Team and the DE&I Business Resource Group. As a flight attendant, I have the opportunity to interact with diverse groups of people from all over the world. This has expanded my horizons and allowed me to hone my innate interpersonal and communication skills. By exemplifying excellence and inclusiveness during all phases of flight, I reassure passengers daily from different backgrounds, origins, sexual orientations, religions and communities that we are all one people.
Aryn: What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?
Simone: To me, Women’s Equality Day means to completely understand the role women play in the world, the workforce, their communities, families and, most importantly, within themselves. Today is the time to take note on the progress women have made politically, socially and economically but also to continue to shatter all glass ceilings.
Aryn: It’s true— it’s important to recognize how far we’ve come while not getting distracted by how far we have to go. What hurdles have you overcome as a woman? How do you think it has made you a stronger individual for the future?
Simone: I have the confidence to be unapologetically myself as an African American woman—no matter the negative stigma may sometimes be attached to it. It has allowed me to show courage under fire and is a constant reminder to always exude an attitude of confidence. Getting comfortable with voicing my opinion in a patriarchal society, understanding that I don’t have to be masculine in order to fit in a workplace and holding myself to a higher standard regardless of the hurdles I’ve been faced with. Overcoming adversity builds character and has given me a deeper understanding of myself, the role I play in others’ lives and within my education, community and workplace.
Aryn: The way you use your voice to advocate for matters your passionate about inspires me. Tell me about your passions beyond your role at Republic? What gets you excited?
Simone: I enjoy paying it forward within my community of the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. I participate in career days at local elementary schools and facilitate training at Bowie State University and local companies. Being able to lead and take responsibility for finding someone’s potential and developing that potential is vital to me. I want to see people win. Sometimes a person just needs to hear affirmation they can do something, that they have what it takes to succeed and that no matter what, what’s for them will always be for them. I am a firm believer in trusting the process. Most of all, I strive to be the best big sister to my twin sisters who are juniors in high school and are also enrolled in college courses at Prince George’s Community College.
Aryn: As a big sister to six siblings, I can relate to the importance you place on being the best role model possible for them, most importantly to empower them to be their best selves— it certainly sounds like you’ve done that. What makes you feel empowered as a female within our airline?
Simone: As a woman at Republic, I feel empowered being able to have tough conversations with different members of the leadership team and feel completely confident in doing so.
Aryn: Being able to have that two-way communication with leadership is so important. Why is it important to you to speak out on equity for females in the workplace and in general to leadership and colleagues?
Simone: It’s important because if we don’t, who else is going to do it? Having the strength to bring the topic to conversation and articulate the facts of what it means to be a woman in today’s society is imperative in every organization. Like the fact that today, in 2021, women still make 82 cents for every dollar a man earns, all while society sets expectations on women’s bodies, the role we play within our family and our workplace–not to mention the effects of maternity leave, how men are allowed to make life-changing decisions on women’s bodies—these, and so much more, are reasons why women should always speak up at work.
Aryn: What do you hope to accomplish for all individuals throughout your efforts, including women in the future?
Simone: I hope to encourage women to not be disempowered when discriminated but to remain above the fray. Know your worth in all areas of life and continue to be unapologetically you. I like to think, “My limit is unlimited.”