How I Got Here

Watching her dreams take flight

Woman standing in front of a wall holding models of airplanes

Photography by Andrew Jackson

For Christianna Scott, LLM’98, her role as director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Air Canada is a dream job – one that brings together several of her passions.

“Ever since I went into law, I’ve been passionate about human rights,” she says. “This position allows me to practise human rights from a proactive standpoint. I’m tasked with ensuring we’re as inclusive as possible.” 

Ms. Scott worked as senior counsel for Air Canada for 17 years before leaving to become an administrative court judge, and subsequently spent 10 months working for BNP Paribas bank before this job came up in mid-2022.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) officials – charged with making sure an organization is supportive of every employee’s race, ethnicity, religion, ability, gender, and sexual orientation – are relatively new, and Air Canada’s team is no different. 

“I’ve been given the leeway to make it what I want,” says Ms. Scott. “A lot of people think that DE&I is a bit of a fluff piece; it’s anything but.” 

Self-deprecating humour is an important part of how she does her job. 

“We see it all – and that’s good because if you can’t see it, you can’t address it,” she says. “My 10-person team and I have to be vulnerable about our own stories and mishaps. We’ll never get perfection, and it helps to share our own mistakes, such as how we once misgendered someone. You need to talk about it openly.” 

Ms. Scott, who was born in Ghana, frequently shares her own experiences. She’s walked into job interviews and seen jaws drop because the interviewers didn’t expect her to be Black. 

“I give personal examples because that really is why I’m in this line of work,” she says. “With a name like Christianna Scott, people don’t expect to see me, right? [That said,] things have changed since I was looking for a job.” 

Ms. Scott’s mother is Black and her father is white, but she self-identifies as a Black woman, rather than a biracial one, and explains why. 

“Talking about that helps me illustrate the concept of self-identifying, its importance, how it is a personal decision, and how it can change over time,” she says.

One of the initiatives she has started is a diversity, equity, and inclusion champions program for the company’s nearly 36,000 employees. 

“We’re very spread out – we’re in the air, we’re on the tarmac – so we need people who are embedded in the organization to create that loop of communication,” she says. “People are more inclined to listen to their peers on topics of DE&I.” 

When they did the program callout, they had more than double the number of champion volunteers they requested so, while it’s new, it’s promising. “We have pilots, flight attendants, ramp agents, administrators, people from France, Florida – everywhere – and we get together monthly to talk.” 

The challenges raised so far are self-identification and its privacy aspects.

“There’s concern about what the company will do with this data,” Ms. Scott says. “It’s understandable, but our work is only as good as our information. So, it’s helping people understand that we need a profile, not a name.” 

Ms. Scott says her time at Queen’s has a lot to do with her current career. Her supervisor, David Mullan, gave her “a home away from home” because she was significantly younger than the other students in the master’s program, having enrolled straight from her Bachelor of Laws. And she loved that Queen’s had a partnership with a Ghanaian university, which meant that three of the 12 students in her program were from Ghana. 

“There was this whole cultural connection that was amazing,” she says of the “intense” one-year program. 

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