What’s Wrong with Aviation/Aerospace Diversity Strategies?

By Kathryn B. Creedy

10-minute read

Credit: Fly for the Culture
  • Why diversity programs fail
  • Study reveals men still don’t get it
  • Covid’s impact on women’s careers
  • Will Covid force diversity efforts to take back seat?
  • Diversity in corporate best interest
  • Recommendations for success

We already know 2020 is a watershed year, but what is less clear is the fact, with Covid, the aviation & aerospace industries risk the loss of the little progress made toward gender, racial and sexual orientation diversity and the profitability, creativity, engagement and loyalty that goes with it.

A new report – Propelling a Gender Balanced Diversity – published November 11, details not only why the industry has not made more progress with diversity and makes recommendations on how to move the needle.  

While the report focused on gender, lessons learned benefit any diversity effort because it is all about intention, mindfulness and C-Suite commitment to change. Indeed, the report’s first recommendation is not to start with a women’s strategy at all but by creating a purpose for all. No single diversity group represents more than 10% of the industry workforce.

“To achieve meaningful transformation, organizations need to find an inclusive purpose that everyone can identify with,” authors said.  “Women are not the issue. Inclusion is. The passion behind the purpose for change needs to come from the top. We found, despite much effort, there are still clear disparities in people’s perceptions, experiences and opportunities to progress. In many cases, these are gender-related but they also extend to other under-represented groups. This does not rule out having dedicated strategies for specific challenges or investigating why women and other groups are under-represented but it is overwhelmingly clear that people need to unite behind purpose.”

This has never been more important.

In a recent webcast, Women in Aviation & Aerospace Charter (WiAAC), which commissioned the report by Korn Ferry, said one of the first concerns with Covid raised among members, was its impact on women.

Falling away

One startling statistic from a US study reflects the gravity of the crisis. The participation rate for women in the labor force in the US dropped below 55% in April, something not seen in 33 years.

A study by the National Women’s Law Center found 1.1 million US workers ages 20+ dropped out in August and September, 850,000 of which were women, four times higher than men. The unemployment rate for women of color in the US was more than 11%, said NWLC, compared to unemployment rates for white men and women at nearly 7%.

The economic impact of working moms’ coronavirus-related anxiety ws estimated at $341 billion by Dr. Laura Sherbin, an economist and managing director of Culture@Work, who cited the difficulty to engage fully in work. While companies are responding with support including tutors, flextime and child care, it is creating new challenges because workers are clearly not being supported enough.

Published by Kathryn B. Creedy

Kathryn B. Creedy is a veteran aviation journalist and communications strategist. My byline has appeared in CNN Travel, The Points Guy, BBC Capital, Los Angeles Times, Forbes Online, The Washington Post, Flyer Talk, Business Traveler, Business Travel Executive, Afar, Flightglobal, Centre for Aviation, Aviation Week & Space Technology, Low Fare & Regional Airlines, Inflight, Business Airports International, Airports, Centerlines, Regional Gateway, Runway Girl Network and Metropolitan Airport News among others. In 2018, I was cited for the Sapphire Pegasus Business Aviation Award for her work as a business aviation journalist. Created four newsletters, including two web publications Author: Time Flies - The History of SkyWest Airlines. Consistently received bonuses or commendations throughout my career. Founded Commuter/Regional Airline News, building it to become the bible of the industry. Co-founded C/R Airline News International to cover Europe. Founding editor of Aviation Today's Daily Brief, VLJ Report. Founding Senior Analyst North America for Centre for Aviation and North American Editor for Low Fare & Regional Airlines and Inflight. Key Words: Aviation, travel, business jets, commercial, aircraft, airlines, publishing, public relations, corporate communications, media specialist,

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