WIAAC-IATA Urge for More Diversity in Industry

26 July 2021

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The Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter (WIAAC) has joined forces with IATA to reinforce the importance of maintaining a focus on diversity and inclusion as the aviation and aerospace sectors recover from Covid-19. According to research by the World Economic Forum from March 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic will set women back by a whole generation in terms of gender parity and pay gap.

At last week’s FIA Connect, the “Challenging Together” panel looked for key actions the sectors can take. The panel was moderated by Sumati Sharma, WIAAC Co-Chair and Partner at Oliver Wyman. She was joined by IATA Director General Willie Walsh, WIAAC Co-Chair and CCO of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace Jacqui Sutton, and Non-Executive Director at Norwegian Airlines, Chris Browne OBE. Together, they highlighted the need to work together to challenge the sectors to act now through initiatives such as WIAAC and IATA 25by2025.

The panelists advocated for senior leadership to lead by example in building a sustainable future. More diversity in an organisation brings an expanded and educated approach to challenging industry issues. Businesses with a diverse work force across all seniority levels are proven to deliver better results and be better equipped to address challenging issues, voiced the panelists.

The importance of encouraging ambition from the beginning was also voiced. There is an urgent need to change the gendered perception of aviation roles, from as early as school age. A child’s perception of aviation and aerospace roles is hugely affected by the subjects they are offered at school and the job roles they are told are available to them. Investment in education will expand the pool of talent entering the sector without alienating men.

The importance of authenticity was discussed. It is crucial for senior leaders to connect with diversity and inclusion issues in a personal way, not just chasing targets. Underrepresented groups will leave an organisation that is not inclusive. Talent of all races and gender need to feel valued in an organisation. Authenticity is a key to retaining these groups and achieving progress.

The panelists also discussed how to speed up the diversity and inclusion progress. Organisations should publicly disclose their diversity and inclusion targets and their progress towards achieving them, and publish their gender pay gap report. Additionally, the industry must maintain an open dialogue about diversity and inclusion issues. The more open the industry is, the easier it is to face and challenge issues appropriately to build a stronger, more diverse industry.

Sumati Sharma, Co-Chair of the WIAAC said “Our FIA Connect panel was insightful and necessary in ensuring the aviation and aerospace sectors maintain their focus on and commitment to underrepresented groups. By urging these sectors to be changemakers, we hope to see more organisations inspired to drive change, committing themselves to the steps it will take to build a better industry of the future.”

Before the world faces another pilot shortage, the industry needs to learn how to recruit, train and retain new pools of people. Read more in  Woefully Under-Represented.

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