How to Improve Diversity & Inclusion in Aviation

Do you feel the Aerospace Industry, in general, has not been kind to your Gender, Sexual Orientation, or ethnic Background? Does your organization have a Diversity and Inclusion Director?

If the answer is yes, then we agree. And it needs fixing.

Here’s the first of many pieces on the subject – where we try to right some wrongs.

girl apprentice

We’ve got bad news and we’ve got good news. First, the bad, which you may already feel. Aviation has been a laggard when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion, based on verifiable statistics.

And we won’t bore you with the why’s. The Good News is the world is changing. And so is Aviation, albeit at a slower pace than we would like.


If you consider yourself part of a diverse group, say the LGBTQ+ community or the disabled workforce, then we want to give you some valuable resources and guides. or if you are looking at the Aerospace sector with a view to starting a career or business and would like to investigate the D & I issues.

Or hopefully you would like to reach out to these groups that need a helping hand growing these parts of our Industry. 

Diverse & Inclusive Workplace

Aviation, The Travel Industry, and all of Aerospace are for the benefit of everyone on this planet and should be constructed by and for, everyone on this planet. Full stop.

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Diversity & Inclusivity 2023 – a Snapshot.

First, many thanks to our friends in Mason, Hayes Curran (Dublin, Ireland) for this resource. They are a top aviation legal firm and they have been compiling a Gender and Diversity in Aviation Survey since 2015 and the results are available for download.

But here are some key takeaways.

1. The Number of Women in management roles has increased – But women at the board level is still lacking.

2. 53% of Organizations don’t have a diversity & Inclusion Committee. This is poor, but this is a complex issue. So more on this later.

3. There was a rise of women in senior aviation roles since 2019. From 16% to 30%+. Better.

4. In the report, 33% of respondents reported more than 30% of candidates hired were from female or diverse backgrounds.

5. Gender pay gap reporting legislation is only being considered by 12% of the respondents.

In terms of the first point, there is a website that is targeting 30% female positions at C-level and Board level worldwide to combat this underrepresentation. Please visit them and learn about the obligations. Gender pay-gap reporting gets a sizeable YES from us.

Air France Female Pilot

Since 2017 (but very much depending on your country) companies over a certain size (250 members) must analyze and report on the differences in pay scales between men and women. If you are just finding this out, click here for more information

Aviation Environment

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have noticed the Aviation business suffered more than most due to the Covid Pandemic. Add to that the issue of sustainability, which was already reaching a crescendo well before 2019.

When your focus is on survival and you are shedding employees by the thousands, it’s hard to start a conversation about the cultural or gender make-up of those that remain. We get that. But we must keep this issue high on the agenda because aviation will survive only on the say-so of the masses.

And those masses are the diverse groups that we need to help.

The FAA and the Inclusive workplace

If you are US-based, the FAA continues to impress with its online resources. They also have a diversity inclusion web page. There you will find lists of Employee Associations with special emphasis on diverse groups.

FAA Pride, FAA Hispanic Coalition, FAA Black Coalition, and FAA Coalition of employees with disabilities. All links to these respective websites can be found via this FAA hub page. The FAA also has an Aviation Development Program (ADP) that hires “underrepresented individuals into mission-critical aviation occupations”. An impressive performance in reaching the goals of inclusive work environments. 

EASA & Inclusive Culture

In Europe, we have the EU Commission which sits between the world aviation lawmakers, ICAO, and the aviation agency called EASA. So, the issues of diversity and inclusivity are dealt with at the EU level. They then filter down into the respective agencies and then down into the business community.

You can go to the EU diversity platform if you wish. Knowing that this is non-aviation specific as a starting point but still a great employee resource.

Dawn Cook Delta Airlines

IATA Inclusive Environments

IATA has an annual Diversity and Inclusion awards ceremony each year. You can see 2021’s winners here. Awards for Inspirational role models, high-flyer awards, as well as best diversity and inclusion team. USD $25,000 cash for the winners too! From what we could find, this is a Gender only (female-driven) project, and one hopes that in the future it will be expanded to include all the groups we know as diverse. 

They could also support awards for Inclusive Organization or Aerospace companies who show the best commitment to Diversity. 

Boeing Ethnic Diversity

Of all the OEMs, we are particularly impressed by a sassy group of upstarts in Seattle called Boeing. You can read about their diversity and inclusivity. And no, we are not looking for a cheap B738 Max. Just a T-shirt. On that same page, you will find their 2021 Global Equity, Diversity and Inclusion report which is a fine example of how this subject matter should be treated.

All of you big employers out there (in that 60% bracket that is doing SFA on this issue), should take a leaf out of Boeing’s book. Groups, support, committees, and resources are all available to staff. A great benchmark. It should be offered to all Aerospace students as reading material. 

GE Aviation

Another OEM that has been serious about Inclusive Leadership is GE, albeit from 2020 when their first report was published. But now they have the 2021 report up there and if you need the stats to back up that corporate policy then we recommend you dive into these reports.

Don’t be like the AWG (Aviation Working Group) that just reiterates the commitment without action. This is meaningless.

The Airlines sense of Community

Given they know their customers, Airlines have been the fastest to respond to the needs of the masses in terms of diversity and inclusion. Both in terms of their passengers and the treatment of employees.

And what we found was that most (if not all) U.S. Airlines have excellent pages that show good company culture. And this is not just the reiteration of policy and promises. We checked!

In most cases, it details their business performance actions in areas such as employment, education, and foundations. So go ahead and click into these areas (below) where these airlines show good financial performance supporting you and your tribe.

And be kind to others. And yourself. 

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