For those of you who studied abroad, everyone knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to booking a weekend getaway. You want to find the cheapest hostel in the best location, hit the best bars and clubs, eat local delicacies, and most importantly, find the most efficient mode of transportation for getting there. Living in Prague for four months, I traveled mostly in Central and Eastern Europe,often relying ontrains and buses to get me to and from Praha Hlavni Nadrazi (Prague’s main station – see below for a picture) to Berlin, Munich, Krakow and Vienna. But, flying was a whole other booking strategy. The cheapest airlines that everyone used included, Wizzair, Smart Wings, EastJet and the infamous Ryanair. Although I never flew on Ryanair, I knew that the company has faced an array of scandals and controversies over the years and decided to dig a little deeper.
I was purposely looking for ethical issues that plagued the company in regards to employee relationships or hidden fees, which they have had issues with both in the past. However, I was unaware of the sexist advertisements they have produced over the years. As evident by my previous post about John Stewart Mills and Feminism, I am passionate about women’s rights and the study of women’s history. So, when I first saw a few of the print advertisements Ryanair had publicized, I was disgusted by the degrading and negative portrayal of the lingerie wearing woman used in the ads. In the case of one particular ad, which was launched in December of 2011, Ryanair depicts a stewardess as a model on a cover of a racy magazine. To me, it seems as if the airline was equating their stewardess to Playboy models. The pictures were taken from Ryanair’s charity calendar that is produced yearly. Executives have said that the charity calendar has been published for the past five years and they were going to continue to encourage employees to take off their clothes to raise money for the less fortunate.
According to the article, “’Sexist” Ryanair Ad Faces Inquiry,” a flight attendant for the airline has led a campaign to ban the advertisement. She stressed that the company is portraying their flight attendants as glamorous models and that their role as stewardess is to protect passengers, not to be seen as sex objects. The Advertising Standards Authority has also received numerous complaints from the general public about how the ad not only objectifies women but also degrades female cabin crewmembers. When scanning the advertisement, I could not help but think about Stakeholder Theory and how a company’s survival depends on management’s ability to balance on their stakeholders. How could Ryanair encourage its employees to take off their clothes and then use the pictures for national advertisements? Why hasn’t Ryanair management stopped publishing the calendar and or using the pictures for newspaper advertisements if it degrades their own employees? Although I understand the airline is inexpensive, why would women want to fly the airline if it degrade their own gender?