The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion in Aviation

Captain LaPonda J. Fitchpatrick (Retired), ACE SHRM-SCP
April 3, 2018

Usually, when we speak on aviation diversity, we think of the management structure, the air carrier personnel, and other airport tenant employees. However, in 2009, Burns/McDonnell, an engineering firm that specializes in aviation commissioned a paper on diversity in aviation. They didn't just concentrate on diversity from the perspectives of the workers and managers of the airport or the consultants that provide services. They looked at diversity from a different angle; what would the customer look like in the future and what would they expect to experience, from comfort to those that will be providing them service. They not only looked at race, gender, and ethnicity, but they also stressed generational diversity and how airports need to be built and prepared for 4 different generations utilizing the same space, including passengers and workers. And, I believe 5 will eventually be utilizing the marketplace all at once because we've seen the young entrepreneurs that are starting their own businesses before the age of 10!

By the Numbers

Based on the number of projected aircraft orders, Boeing estimates by 2036, the aviation industry will need: 637,000 new commercial pilots, 648,000 maintenance technicians, and 839,000 new crew members, and this does not include the estimated 1.2 million on-airport employees to support the airline industry such as security, police, other airport tenant personnel, and airport operator staff.

Whether it is technology that can be used with ease by the 5 generations utilizing the space, the type of music that is playing in the public areas, or the types of concessions available in the airport including food and clothing, airports must consider the changing demographics of both airport users and available labor and what they will expect to experience as they navigate your airports.

The Big Questions

Ask yourself these questions: Is your organization diverse enough to develop your strategic plans to address the needs of the changing demographic customer base? Do you have enough inclusivity that you have decision-makers at the table from at least 4 generations that are in the workplace, as well as diverse genders and ethnicities? Do you want to know why your organization should hire someone like a Hedy Lamarr, the beautiful Hollywood actress of the 40’s who was "the Angelina Jolie of her day"; or a young black man with no arms who rides around in a vintage Chevy Impala low rider, to help you address these issues?

The diversity of airport users is only expanding. Managing diverse customer expectations and their level of satisfaction are critical to the profitability of an airport. If airports do not embrace diversity now, they will not be ready for the future that is already here.

Come Join the Discussion

If you want the answers to these questions and more, come join the discussion on why it is critical for airports to further their diversity initiatives at the 90th Annual AAAE Conference and Exposition in San Diego, California, April 15-17, 2018.