Aircraft Cabin Management

AIX23: Diversity in Aviation report highlights progress and puts the business case

photo_camera Wheelchair at airport (Pic: Adobe stock)

A new report released by Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) shines a light on the work of airlines to further the diversity, equity and inclusivity agenda.

Released ahead of the annual trade show in Hamburg on June 6-8, Diversity in Aviation features leading airlines and suppliers JetBlue, United Airlines, BA, Airbus, and Virgin Atlantic.

The report explores socio-political challenges facing the industry today, focussing on disability, female leadership, race and ethnicity, self-expression, and the business case for diversity.

A key area highlighted is accessibility with more than half (56%) of passengers who have a disability saying in a survey that they find flying and using airports difficult.

Diversity in Aviation analyses what airlines have implemented and how they are innovating the cabin for all passengers.

Christopher Wood MBE, a disability lobbyist and founder of Flying Disabled, who contributes to the report, claims aviation is “behind other forms of transport with accessibility and inclusion”.

Wood is a speaker at this year’s Passenger Experience Conference on June 5 where he will talk about revolutionising air travel for passengers with reduced mobility.

AIX is running a Women in Aviation campaign, which it launched earlier this year, and the report explores gender equality and female leadership.

It includes the results of a poll that reveals 63% of women are put off a career as a professional airline pilot for reasons including a lack of visible role models and being told it was a ‘man’s job’.

The report calls on the industry to improve the visibility of female leaders both at the top and in broader roles to achieve gender equality and instigate wider cultural change.

The report also reviews how airlines are implementing racially diverse and inclusive cultures after an all-black BA cabin crew operated a flight for the very first time,

In a statement the UK flag carrier said: “As part of our BA Better World strategy, we’re creating inclusion and diversity programmes, and building partnerships with groups like Fantasy Wings to help break down barriers and ensure underrepresented groups can access the exciting opportunities available within the aviation industry.”

The report explores in-cabin dress codes under the topic of self-expression. Aviation professionals discuss how airlines are allowing cabin and ground crew to express their identities freely.

Estelle Hollingsworth, chief people officer of Virgin Atlantic, said: “Many people use tattoos to express their unique identities and our customer-facing and uniformed colleagues should not be excluded from doing so if they choose”.

The report concludes with an evaluation of the business case for diversity, exploring how it can boost an organisation’s customer engagement, marketplace reputation, talent acquisition, and profitability.

Citing research from McKinsey & Co. that finds companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 25% more likely to score above-average profitability than other quartiles, the chapter highlights how airlines can implement a D&I strategy that drives real value and performance.

Polly Magraw, AIX event director, Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX), said: “The aviation industry is one of the most globalised, international industries, and it’s vital that it is reflective of the modern world.

“Ahead of this year’s AIX event, where a large number of suppliers will be showcasing solutions to make the cabin more inclusive, this report takes a broad look at the challenges the industry has faced and what it has achieved already.

“We hope that the report can act as the keystone on which the industry can continue to work towards creating a fully diverse, inclusive workforce with equal opportunities for all.”

The full Diversity in Aviation report is available to be downloaded for free.

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