Both within business aviation and in the general workplace, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has become increasingly important, as employers seek to address marginalization of underrepresented groups and include DEI in their core work.
Jo Damato, CAM, NBAA’s vice president of educational strategy and workforce development, said, “DEI is a priority for growing the aviation workforce, and NBAA is committed to this through a number of internal and external initiatives. We hope to raise awareness within the entire business aviation community and make the industry more diverse and inclusive.”
One of the ways business aviation organizations can learn how best to implement DEI initiatives is to study how other industries have approached this challenge. Below are a variety of examples.
Center for Diversity and the Environment
“Everything starts with an awareness,” said Queta González, director of the Center for Diversity and the Environment, a non-profit organization that promotes racial and ethnic diversity by developing leaders, catalyzing change within institutions and building alliances. “Without that awareness, there is no impetus to grow or change.”
According to González, when awareness is followed by information gathering and analysis, then an organization has a true grounding for the work that needs to be done. She believes that awareness first happens on a personal level, then evolves from a personal to an interpersonal level, and finally to a systems level.
“Everything starts with an awareness. Without that awareness, there is no impetus to grow or change.”
Queta González Director, The Center for Diversity and the Environment
“This is not a straight-line process,” warns González. “It is a messy, nuanced process. At the end of the day, it is a culture change. It requires clear commitment from all levels and a plan against which an organization can measure its trajectory.”
González, who prior to the pandemic traveled every week presenting seminars and workshops and working with DEI clients, notes that organizations must understand why DEI can make them stronger.
“Exploring their history through a racial and equity lens helps when we have to create a new way of thinking,” she said.
North American Association for Environmental Education
The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), a Washington, DC-based association with affiliates across North America, has been incorporating equity and inclusion into its core work for a number of years.
“We feel it is a moral imperative and a business imperative. Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are a major part of who we are.”
Judy Braus Executive Director, North American Association for Environmental Education
Judging by NAAEE’s diverse staff, board of directors, advisory council and other partners – even recent conference keynoters and presenters, including best-selling “How to Be an Anti-Racist” author Ibram Kendi – the association is proving why it is a leader in creating a stronger and more inclusive movement.
“We feel it is a moral imperative and a business imperative,” said Judy Braus, NAAEE executive director. “Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are a major part of who we are.”
NAAEE has taken numerous steps to further equity and inclusion, which Braus acknowledges has no set end. With the help of consultants and trainers and the buy-in of staff and its board, NAAEE has undertaken an organizational audit, resulting in numerous changes:
- Revised vision and mission statements
- Modified overall strategic framework, including core values
- Amended hiring practices
A revamped annual conference format to ensure that all participants feel welcome and at least 15% of sessions focus on aspects of equity and inclusion. Also, equity and inclusion training is offered at the conference.
“We held a DEI Summit in 2018 to talk about the progress we’ve made and what more we can do,” said Braus. In particular, she noted the importance that the association places on leadership development. “We have a number of leadership programs that include a focus on equity and inclusion, including our EE (Environmental Education) 30 Under 30.”
NAAEE staff recently chose three charitable organizations that it will help support, and the organization is creating a policy that encourages each employee to take a morning or afternoon off each month to volunteer at a local charity to give back to their communities. The association has also made Juneteenth an NAAEE holiday.
“It is essential to walk the talk,” declares Braus.
The nationwide retailer recently announced plans to increase representation of Black team members across the company by 20% over the next three years by sharpening its focus on advancement, retention and hiring.
“We know that having a diverse workforce and inclusive environment not only creates a stronger team, but it also provides the perspectives we need to create the products, services, experiences and messages our guests expect,” said Melissa Kremer, chief human resources officer.
Target has a Racial Equity Action and Change (REACH) committee that is leading the company’s DEI efforts. These include a number of systemic changes:
- Leveraging its stores, supply chain and headquarters experiences to provide broader leadership pathways for Black team members to develop and advance
- Developing programs to hire and retain Black team members in career areas with low levels of representation, including technology, data sciences, merchandising and marketing
- Increasing Target’s network of mentors and sponsors to help Black team members accelerate and advance their careers
- Ensuring Target’s benefits and partnerships drive wellness and safety for Black team members
- Conducting anti-racist training for leaders and team members that educates, builds inclusion and acumen, and fosters a sense of belonging
“We know that having a diverse workforce and inclusive environment not only creates a stronger team, but it also provides the perspectives we need to create the products, services, experiences and messages our guests expect.”
Melissa Kremer Chief Human Resources Officer, Target
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL)
APL employs about 8,000 people, most of whom work in the greater Baltimore, MD area. The organization has an employee resource group called FUSE (Fostering Unity and Staff Empowerment) that has a representative from each sector, department and affinity group.
“FUSE works to develop and implement initiatives to promote a positive, diverse and inclusive culture at APL,” said Yvette Lewis, program security representative for the security services department and FUSE representative for her group.
“Each sector and department at APL is developing and structuring its own D&I teams, which align to the overall goals of the lab. Once a month, all the sector and department FUSE representatives meet to share ideas, tools and best practices on what their organizations are doing. Through FUSE, APL also engages with all of our affinity groups to gain their perspective on how the lab can enhance D&I.”
APL is looking into engaging a diversity and inclusion consultant to conduct a comprehensive assessment and suggest new ideas and recommendations.
“Our overarching goal for D&I is to create a diverse and inclusive workforce atmosphere that will allow for the development of talent and foster a culture where all can be their comfortable and authentic selves,” said Lewis.
General Dynamics Mission Systems
The 13,000 employees of Fairfax, VA-based General Dynamics Mission Systems celebrate diversity awareness every August. Throughout that month and beyond, the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Council coordinates events across the country that foster community and educate employees on new ways to grow and thrive with a diverse workforce. Recently, the council held events at sites across the country to give employees information on ways they can get involved in D&I initiatives.
The council also organizes inclusivity celebrations in the workplace, hosts monthly meetings to brainstorm and share ideas, conducts enterprise-wide “lunch and learns,” and develops and implements company diversity strategies.
In addition, General Dynamics Mission Systems has employee resource groups and works with diversity recruitment partners such as the Society of Women Engineers, Black Engineer of the Year Awards and others.
DALY Computers, Inc.
DALY Computers shows that even smaller organizations can embrace D&I. The IT service provider, with about 180 employees based in Clarksburg, MD, has a 10-member diversity committee that meets biweekly to discuss D&I initiatives.
According to Human Resources Assistant Savannah Carmona, the 10-member committee recently administered diversity training to all staff through DALY’s human resource information system.
“These were a series of videos that went in-depth on discrimination in the workplace, laws and regulations, and why we should celebrate each other’s differences,” said Carmona.
“We also posted a few diversity quizzes on our company’s Intranet and gave out prizes to the winners. We also post relevant and interesting articles on diversity and inclusion to the Intranet and are hoping to do a virtual luncheon soon.”
A future goal of DALY’s diversity committee (among others) is to host DEI speakers and trainers.