CEO & General Manager, Galápagos Ecological Airport
One of a series of profiles on business executives leading gender equality efforts in the workplace
Jorge Rosillo’s work on gender equality started a decade ago - when Ecuador set out to build the world’s first ecological airport in the Galapagos.
That led to making airport operations carbon neutral, and that led to an analysis of airport efficiency, including its staff, said Rosillo, general manager at Galápagos Ecological Airport.
“Then we realized something,” he told the United Nation Global Compact.
“Women weren’t as efficient as men.”
Digging deeper, he said, he turned up two factors. First, women, not men,were shouldering the domestic responsibilities of caring for children and the home.
“Not only that, women were suffering home violence,” he said, and that was causing absenteeism as well as distraction on the job.
So the airport management turned its attention to addressing domestic violence and, more broadly, gender equality as an issue of sustainability.
“Sustainability, okay, it’s climate change, it’s the birds, the trees, nature, but it’s about the community, it’s about our local community too,” Rosillo said.
The airport management set up a gender committee to consider the issue and got involved with local government, police, prosecutors, social services and others to address the issue of violence toward women on the Galapagos, which has a population of about 25,000. It worked with Plan International, a U.K.-based humanitarian group, to develop training and awareness strategies for both women and men.
“We men, sometimes we don't understand something because we don't live it,” said Rosillo, 54. “We don’t suffer that discrimination. We don't suffer sexist jokes.”
Airport team members also worked with police and justice authorities to develop a roadmap for women on reporting domestic violence, and consequences like legal prosecution and finding shelter, he said.
“It’s an island. You don't have many places to go,” Rosillo said. “We started working on that.”
Now, Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 on gender equality is a focus for the airport along with SDG No. 13 to combat climate change, SDG No. 11 to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable and SDG No. 17 to promote a global partnership for sustainable development, he said.
The carbon-neutral airport in the Galapagos is a feat of environmentally conscious design, tapping into wind patterns for cooling, with desalination facilities, restoration of native vegetation and more.
The gender committee and anti-violence campaign started its work three years ago, but its achievements have been difficult to measure due to the pandemic, he said.
Nevertheless, positive change has occurred, he said.
“What I can feel is it's a different environment. How men and women interact is different now than three years ago when we started,” Rosillo said. “It’s more like a partnership. It’s no more sexist jokes.”
“Women can speak more openly,” he said. “It’s working.”