By Laura Shepherd, Marketing Manager
“Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.”
– Jesse Jackson, American civil rights activist
It’s no secret that women are vastly underrepresented in the aviation industry—even in the 21st century. Since its inception, aviation and aeronautics has been a predominately male industry. While women make up 47% of the entire US workforce, the female piloting workforce has lingered below 5% for decades.
So, what gives? Many people believe aviation’s gender diversity problem lies in the longstanding masculine stereotype associated with pilots. Others believe that women aren’t exposed to the valuable opportunities the aviation industry offers.
Whatever the root cause may be in aviation’s gender gap, it is our responsibility as members of the community to raise awareness of the lack of diversity and hold ourselves accountable for driving initiatives that promote a more equal workforce.
Closing the Gender Gap and Promoting Women as Leaders
Today, just shy of two years of operation, the Planet 9 workforce is now 46% women, between our pilots and flight attendants and our sales, finance, maintenance, marketing, logistics, and training teams.
We don’t just hire women—we give women the training and opportunities to lead teams. In fact, women are leaders in every area within our company, including our CFO, director of sales, maintenance managers, and beyond. At Planet 9, we work hard to ensure women feel empowered to work toward leadership positions and receive the tools they need to reach those goals. Promoting leadership can be as simple as providing professional development tools such as mentoring, coaching, or educational opportunities.
Women are eager to share their stories, offer advice, and encourage one another. Across the industry, women have come together to create incredible platforms like Women in Aviation International and Women in Corporate Aviation which provide safe spaces for women to inspire, learn, and advance in their aviation related careers. Progressive organizations like WAI and WCA are also vital to educating the next generation about the opportunities and benefits available in the aviation sector. By encouraging employee involvement in these types of organizations, we are strengthening our employees and teams, as well as helping make all of aviation a more inclusive place.
Inclusivity at the Core
It’s up to operators and other aviation organizations to create inclusive cultures with diverse employees. The first step in promoting change is embracing diversity at the organizational core. Establishing policies for inclusion is paramount. It’s also important to build a company culture in which inclusion is part of the company’s core values and overall mission.
From the beginning, Planet 9 built its infrastructure to support our operations at a global scale by establishing an international presence and staffing our teams from a diverse pool of candidates. Recognizing that talent comes in all shapes and sizes is vital to our company’s success. Our employees’ unique backgrounds and differences bring a variety of perspectives to our Planet 9 teams, allowing us to think bigger and broader. In an industry where innovation is key, we rely on the diverse talent of our teams to keep us as the forefront.
Creating a diverse workforce means adapting to the individual needs of all of our employees. We continually evaluate our employees’ needs through open communication (including frequent company culture surveys) and evolve our policies as necessary. To be an inclusive company, we must take appropriate measures to ensure our workplace is one where everyone feels safe, supported, and listened to.
While we have made progress across the aviation industry, we still have a long way to go in attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. Building an inclusive workspace and diverse workforce is no longer optional, and change has to start at the core.
The aviation industry cannot continue to be at the forefront of innovation without the diverse talent required to support it. In a progressive world, creating a forward-thinking and open-minded workplace is truly the only way to innovate and soar beyond outdated stereotypes.