Since the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, we’ve shared our thoughts on the impacts on aircraft acquisition, private aviation and commercial air travel. As this historic event continues to unfold, we are seeing impacts that go far beyond our industry.
McKinsey and Company recently published their 2020 edition of “Women in the Workplace” which reveals that corporate America is in a state of emergency. Due to the pressures put in place by blurred home and work boundaries, more than one in four women are contemplating downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce completely. If we see those changes come to fruition, not only will it unwind years of progress toward workplace diversity but also dampen innovation, with fewer viewpoints being considered.
Particularly given my roles as CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation and as mom to a female pilot, I sincerely hope this doesn’t happen. No industry can afford to lose women but particularly not aviation. Over the past two decades, the number of women involved in aviation has continued to very slowly increase, but the numbers are still small by comparison (women pilots, for example, represent only six percent of the total paid pilot population).
This year I had the honor of being appointed to the FAA Women in Aviation Advisory Board. As part of my role, I recently participated in a conversation with other female industry leaders at the 2020 NBAA-VBACE. The discussion, hosted by Kriya Shortt, senior vice-president of parts and programs at Textron Aviation and fellow member of the FAA Women in Aviation Advisory Board, focused on the importance of supporting and retaining women in the workforce, and how companies can address the challenges women face.
In the openings of our conversation (originally republished by MENAFN), Gail Grimmett, Chief Experience Officer at Wheels Up affirmed the McKinsey and Company finding — balancing being a mom, providing for a family, and being a professional is becoming increasingly more difficult and resulting in women pulling out of the workplace.
Though this pattern is undeniable, I’m still inspired by the ‘female innovator’ trend seen in the business community overall. My hope is that as women leave the corporate workforce, they do so in order to launch their own businesses, defining their own workspace and their own ability to manage their schedule. There’s been an upward trend in female entrepreneurship over the last decade, and I am hopeful the imbalances brought on by the pandemic will accelerate this–especially in aviation.
That said, I have three points of advice for women who have found themselves contemplating a change because of 2020:
- Evaluate your passions and proficiencies as they relate to industry, role, and responsibilities
- Find a mentor, multiple mentors or a business coach to help you continuously refine your desired impact on the world around you and find a realistic balance between work and home life
- Extending grace to others has never been harder nor more important, but it will serve you well no matter your role.
For the men, I challenge you to support the women in your families and on your teams by:
- Dialoguing about the expectations they face in 2020 workplaces (yes, women put different pressures on themselves than men do!)
- Speaking up and advocating for female co-workers, especially as remote work and zoom calls may make some more reticent than event to speak up.
- Networking with female leaders who can serve as mentors, and encouraging them to take a younger worker (male or female) under their wing.
By no means is this an easy road ahead, but I am committed (and hope you will commit) to empowering women in leadership to ensure the success of corporate America and the business aviation community for the next generation.
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