CJI Global 2020: Business aviation ‘needs planning and metrics’ to boost diversity



Global business aviation needs “strategic planning and metrics” to boost its ethnic and gender diversity, according to Pamela Williams, Human Relations director, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP).

Addressing the CJI Global 2020 forum Expanding the business aviation workforce, Williams told delegates: “It has to be a strategic conversation in a board room and there has to be a strategic plan around it. How do we implement processes, plans and metrics to tell us we are really putting our money where our mouth is [on expanding ethnic diversity]? Or are we continuing to give this lip service?”

Sierra Grimes, senior manager of registration and programmes, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), urged diversity groups in private aviation to act together. “We have groups like IAWA [International Aviation Women’s Association] and the Latino Pilots Association, which have been working for their sectors for years but it’s all been in silos.

‘It’s all been in silos’

“If we can make the time to come together as a group and build a picture of what diversity in this industry looks like, by having that conversation with each entity represented, that’s how you can really push the needle [on improving diversity].”

Williams added: “We can get this done but we have to be very intentional about it.”

René Banglesdorf, co-founder and CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation and IAWA Advisory Board member, warned that business aviation was “missing out on an entire talent pool”, when recruiting the next generation. “There are a lot of really bright women, young people, really bright people of colour. We shouldn’t just look, as an industry, to the people who have typically filled industry roles.”

Banglesdorf also highlighted the need to attract new groups of customers. “I feel we are not reaching out to new groups of customers because we don’t get our messaging right. If we only have one homogeneous group to which we are developing messaging, we are missing out.”

‘New groups of customers’

After monitoring female ownership of aircraft for about 10 years, Banglesdorf noted the percentage was about the same as women leaders in the industry – about 5%. “So yes, we are missing out on a huge customer base because of that.”

Shelley Svoren, Vice President of Next Gen, IAWA and board member, also spoke passionately about the urgent need to improve gender and ethnic in business aviation. “It’s not enough to hire a diverse workforce,” Svoren told delegates. “You must bring them to the table to be part of the discussion. It doesn’t work if you’re hiring women for the sake of hiring women. Or hiring ethnic minorities to check a box. Make it real, bring us with you and listen to us.”