Feb. 24, 2021

Companies intent on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) may face challenges to implementing those plans, and an NBAA GO Flight Operations Conference session offered perspectives from industry leaders on how it is often the case that “actions speak louder than words” when evaluating DEI initiatives.

For example, Solairus Aviation’s Brad Lindow, CAM, “grew up fundamentally supporting DEI” after hearing of his mother’s experiences with discrimination as a student athlete in the Title IX era. “But it was just this abundant mental support [with] no action,” he said. “I had hesitations stemming from not being a woman in aviation, or a black aerospace professional or a gay pilot.

“Then, one day I just had an epiphany,” Lindow continued. “Support comes from all different places, so with that I joined all three of those organizations. I quickly learned by stepping outside my comfort zone, and expanding my circles and viewpoints, that with action comes true DEI support.”

DEI-focused hiring practices often provide a vital introduction for people who may not otherwise be introduced to certain opportunities or be aware they exist. For example, temporary placement at a large Houston-based trip support company enabled Women in Corporate Aviation Director Tracie Carwile to demonstrate her skills.

“Truthfully, I would not have been introduced to aviation without diverse hiring practices,” she said. “It allowed me the opportunity to display more than my technical skills, my core skills, and this gave my future employer the chance to see if my values aligned with the workplace culture.”

“There are so many aspects in aviation that, depending on where you live at – your socioeconomic status, the leadership in your home and schools – you will never hear about,” added Kenneth Morris, executive director for the Aviation Community Foundation.

Jennifer Pickerel, vice president at Aviation Personnel International, recounted planning her 14-year-old daughter’s birthday party and insisting that she invite a cousin who doesn’t go to her school – only to later see that girl sitting alone as the others played. “And I thought, wow, this is my fault,” she said. “I emphasized the importance of the invites; I didn’t emphasize the importance of including this girl in the conversation.”

That experience brought home that “diversity is the kindergarten of inclusion, Pickerel said. “True inclusion is being encouraged to participate as your authentic self.”