Skift take

Nothing screams “official meeting” more than a shirtless CEO getting a massage at his desk during a virtual conference call. The new normal?

Peden Doma Bhutia

The words “shirtless” and “official meeting” may not often appear in the same sentence, but Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia parent company Capital A, will do things differently.

On Monday, Fernandes posted a shirtless picture of himself receiving a massage at his desk while attending a virtual meeting.

He praised Indonesia and the work culture at AirAsia that allowed him to get a massage while attending a management meeting, writing in a LinkedIn post: “I love Indonesia and the AirAsia culture that I get a massage and can take part in a management meeting.”

Fernandes mentioned that Veranita Yosephine, CEO of AirAsia Indonesia, suggested the massage to him after what he said was a “stressful week at work,” and then mentioned that he had “finished the Capital A structure.”

The LinkedIn post that started it all.

The now-deleted post garnered a lot of attention and not all of it was as Fernandes would have expected. Unsurprisingly, the comments came in quickly.

The answer

Former head of strategy at Meta, Rebecca Nadilo, accused the AirAsia boss of deleting critical comments. “I don’t think the women in your company would feel comfortable or safe in this context, and since you are the boss, they are unlikely to challenge you or say anything. On their behalf, please listen to the comments you deleted on this post. “You are clearly a smart leader who cares about culture, but that is not the way to create a supportive and safe culture,” she wrote.

Some of the adjectives used to describe the image included “unprofessional,” “disrespectful,” “disgusting,” and “inappropriate.”

“He should be an example of good work ethic and culture, not flaunting his body and privilege,” one user wrote.

More AirAsia news

Updated October 16, 2023

“Everyone on the call, including our female management, was asked if they would feel comfortable if he received a shoulder massage after 18 hours of work. We have a fun, friendly and open culture at Capital A that values ​​productivity, efficiency and transparency,” a spokesperson from AirAsia’s communications team said in a statement to media news site Marketing Interactive.

The spokesperson then went on to say that the image was shared with the full consent of the PR department and no comments were intentionally deleted.

In 2021, Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of the Thai airline, was criticized on social media after a clip circulated online of him berating a colleague at a town hall and telling her to “shut up.”

The video shows that Fernandes and AirAsia Digital president Aireen Omar were also present at the meeting, but they did not comment on Bijleveld’s behavior at the time.

The airline had later apologized and told the media that it had a zero-tolerance policy against inappropriate behavior of any kind, which would never be compromised.

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