Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), and the world, need more diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). But what is DEI?
Diversity: Acknowledges all the ways people differ: race, sex, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, and more.
Inclusion: Is about diversity in practice. It’s the act of welcoming, supporting, respecting, and valuing all individuals and groups.
Equity: Is often used interchangeably with equality, but there’s a core difference: Where equality is a system in which each individual is offered the same opportunities regardless of circumstance, equity distributes resources based on needs. We live in a disproportionate society, and equity tries to correct its imbalance by creating more opportunities for people who have historically had less access.
Going a step further is possible to say that DEI also is and embraces,
Belonging: Infers that an equitable structure is in place and functioning to make all people, no matter their differences, feel welcome. When you reach for equity, you’re striving for a system that benefits everyone, no matter their circumstance. Belonging is when this not only works, but no one feels as if their inclusion is questioned. Equity, diversity, and inclusion all mean different things, but interact with and rely on one another. Equity is the goal of diversity and inclusion.
Justice: Is the mission of equity, in which an equitable system works so well it eventually eliminates the systemic problems driving the need for the latter. In other words, everything is fairly and evenly distributed to people no matter their race, gender, physical ability, or other personal circumstances.
With the DEI definition in mind, it’s time to see what it means for AAM to be equitable.
What does “equity in AAM” means?
“Is it listening to women, Indigenous Peoples, Black People, and LGBTQIA2S+ people?”
“Is it having them in positions to make decisions?”
“Is it having them running AAM companies?”
The answer to all of these questions is “yes! Absolutely!” But that’s not all. It’s also important to understand that equity in AAM is overcoming past mistakes. It’s giving women, Indigenous Peoples, and LGBTQIA2S+ people the same opportunities and not seeing them as capable of doing one thing in aviation or even hindering them from entering AAM or aviation altogether.
The 2019 Women in Aviation: A Workforce Report by Rebecca K. Lutte found that less than 5% of aviation executives (CEO, COO, etc.) are women, and women represent around 5% to 10% of all pilots. The only place where women are the majority, more than 70%, are as travel agents and flight attendants.
While the 2020 Racial Diversity in Aviation report by Lindsay Stevenson, Haydee M. Cuevas, and Katie S. Kirkpatrick shows that Black people were only 2.4% of all aircraft pilots and flight engineers in 2018, the jobs that hired more Black people in 2018 were air traffic controllers and airfield operations specialists. They represented only 13.1% of all workers.
And the Women and Drones – DDNC – P3 Tech 2021 UAS/AAM Industry DEI Survey Report brings some light regarding Indigenous Peoples and LGBTQIA2S+. Needless to say, the numbers are alarming.
While it’s evident that listening to women, Indigenous Peoples, Black People & LGBTQIA2S+ people, having them in positions to make decisions, and having them running AAM it’s vital, it’s also evident that aviation isn’t there yet and because the numbers are so dreadful, it means it’ll take a while for the industry to arrive where it needs.
So “what does ‘equity in AAM’ means?” It means learning from aviation’s mistakes to change the trends and give the same opportunity to everybody. It means stop seeing women as only capable of serving rather than leading, and stop preventing Indigenous Peoples, Black People, and LGBTQIA2S+ people from even entering the aviation industry.
And by being more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, AAM boosts its chances of becoming the future. Because as Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton, and Sara Prince discovered,
Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
DEI brings more revenue to companies, and what does a novel industry needs if not revenue? By embracing DEI, AAM will increase its chance of becoming the future of aviation while also helping the world to become a better place. And what is AAM, if not the promise of a better tomorrow?
By Giovani Izidorio Cesconetto