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Making DEI Sustainable in Business Aviation

For many business aircraft owners, operators and managers, supporting a diverse workplace has become second nature. Those who practice diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) on a daily basis say they’re helping to create a diverse industry that sustains itself by leveraging DEI initiatives across the board.

“Diversity fosters new perspectives and ideas, which can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving,” said Jay Boykin, vice president of finance transportation / diversity equity and inclusion at Gogo Business Aviation. “Inclusive and welcoming environments also increase employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention rates. This, in turn, leads to higher productivity, greater innovation and profitability, which are essential for the industry’s growth and sustainability.”

Valuing Difference

Jennifer Pickerel, vice president of Aviation Personnel International (API), suggested thinking about it this way: “Open yourself up to valuing difference in general; understand that the more diverse perspectives brought to the table, the more sound and more successful our solutions are.”

When API recently hired a new team member, said Pickerel, “we intentionally sought out someone from a different generation because we knew our internal demographics were homogenous and we wanted to learn from someone with a different life experience. We went into this hire with the mindset that we hoped to learn as much from her as she does from us.”

If you belong to a team that has recently hired someone, Pickerel said it’s an opportunity for you to “offer the inclusive olive branch; ask them to lunch, bring them up to speed on tribal knowledge, ensure they are included in conversation and provided context as needed.”

‘Conscious, Consistent and Committed’

Anne Palmer of the Palmer Group LLC – a staunch advocate of inclusion in the workplace and beyond – offered these key bullet points aimed at being “conscious, consistent and committed.”

  • Have inclusive, intentional conversations regularly.
  • Provide training to teach how to “think” differently and expand awareness on the importance of DEI.
  • Incorporate DEI into meeting agenda items on metrics to hold your team accountable.

“We are at a tipping point,” Palmer said. “It has been a ‘topic of focus’ for a few years. Organizations and individuals need to assess honestly what efforts have been implemented and how to elevate them in ways that produce a sustainable culture shift.”

Kaye Gitibin, CEO of Go Rentals, shed light on how he and his business hire differently.

“It’s simple, DEI isn’t just about color, creed or sex,” Gitibin said. “It’s about putting the right people in the right position. Resume and character speak for themselves, and we’ve seen the effort and respect firsthand from a diverse workforce.”

Learn more about DEI.

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