Radius gave me the strategies to grow our women’s network, says Sonia Kanda, Co-Chair of WINGS at British Airways

Helping ERGs Take Flight – How Radius Inspired BA’s Women’s Network

IWD’s 2024 theme is to “inspire inclusion” and that is just what Sonia Kanda’s mission was when she helped lead the set-up of BA’s women network WINGS (Women’s Inclusion Network Group for Success) last year.

“I wanted to open doors for other women,” she says. “Raised in an all-girl family, and with sisters who also worked for British Airways, I have always had inspiring women around me and was always passionate to support female growth.”

Sonia has worked at BA for over 26 years and has had some great career development opportunities at the company. This included starting out as an undergraduate on placement, to moving to roles that included procuring onboard products, overseeing concessionaires at JFK airport and leading route start-ups, and now a role that supports BA Commercial Development. She says: “Given my diverse opportunities, I’m grateful for the growth and exposure gained to date, yet I always wanted to give back and support other women, sharing with them how possible it really can be to accelerate, yet to remember to always be the amazing women they are.” Now as part of WINGS she aims to do exactly that, with the network initially focusing on the STEM areas of the business, supporting recruitment processes and development opportunities that help see women grow, and open channels that help create a clearer career path.

Kindly supported by the British Airways D&I team, the Radius training helped Sonia better understand how to develop WINGS. She says it gave her new skills and perspective as a network leader, with tips that she’s also taken into her day job in BA Commercial, for example, how to be more globally inclusive. In the future, Sonia plans to create regional chapters for WINGS, allowing a global reach, also pulling in male allyship support. Sonia adds “What I enjoyed most from the Radius training was the ability to meet participants from other companies and diverse industries from all parts of the world” and says, “It enabled me to tap into and learn about the different challenges that other companies have in leading networks, and in turn to maximise the growth and development for WINGS.”

The network has reached almost 400 members in the first year and Sonia says she is proud of the events she and the WINGS team have hosted, and the strong brand and identity they have created. “Our launch event was delivered through an exhibition style networking fair with speakers from across the business each showcasing different resources available to support women in every topic including personal resilience and wellbeing. Everyone loved it, and the energy in the room was truly inspiring.” she says.

Next, and to mark International Women’s Day, Sonia and the WINGS Team are moving quickly to plan the next big event. They aim to bring in industry speakers and inspiring internal panellists, each sharing stories that inspire inclusion. The day is planned to be streamed across BA’s global network and Sonia adds “I am hoping the day offers the amazing women in our business their own lightbulb moment and helps them see how they already are on an inspiring inclusive journey, while giving them new tips to see them grow further”.

Sonia wants to consolidate everything the network has achieved in year one. “We’ve had a really good first year focused on events, but the next focus is to do more now with the reach” She says “I’ve got lots of new ideas about engaging the network through communication strategies, news articles, podcasts and development programs. People definitely know of us and are hungry to see us flourish. I want to create opportunities that propel women in their careers and work alongside the male allies in the business.”

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