Mason Hayes & Curran: Women and minorities still struggling to progress in aviation

Mason Hayes & Curran: Women and minorities still struggling to progress in aviation

Christine O'Donovan

Diversity in the aviation industry has increased slightly over the past year, but women, LGBT people and ethnic minorities are still struggling to progress to leadership positions, according to Mason Hayes & Curran.

The law firm has published the results of its fourth annual Gender & Diversity in Aviation Survey, which comes ahead of the enactment of gender pay gap reporting legislation later this year.

Of the 150 aviation industry professional who participated in the survey, 71 per cent said that women make up over 30 per cent of the total headcount in their companies, but only 16 per cent said women made up over 30 per cent of the senior roles in their organisations.

The proportion of respondents who indicated they were from a minority group - either an ethnic or religious minority or LGBT+ - stood at 14 per cent, a slight increase on 2018, but only four per cent said their manager came from a minority group too.

Christine O’Donovan, head of aviation and international asset finance at Mason Hayes & Curran, said: “The aviation industry is very competitive, and business leaders will want to make sure they are reaping the benefits that diversity can bring to their business.

“Looking at the survey results, there has been a slight increase in the number of respondents identifying as being part of a minority group, which is a positive development. However, the percentage of women at senior level is still low.

“Business leaders need to harness the benefits that bringing people from diverse backgrounds into their organisations can bring, especially considering that employees, particularly graduates, expect a dynamic workplace with lots of opportunities and potential for career advancement.”

The survey highlighted a state of unpreparedness for gender pay gap reporting legislation, which is expected to be enacted later in 2019.

Only 14 per cent of respondents state that their company has already carried out an analysis, and 41 per cent are unsure if their company has done anything.

In terms of board-level diversity, 28 per cent of respondents stated that their organisation still has an all-male board, despite the fact that many studies show that board diversity leads to enhanced board effectiveness and company performance.

Ms O’Donovan said: “Single gender boards is fast becoming taboo for boards of companies involved in international business, and such boards will need to put a plan in place to appoint female directors from either within their business or external independent appointees.

“There are positive indicators of increasing diversity in the survey, which is encouraging to see. Businesses function through human engagement and productivity, and humans are responsible for the pace and speed of change. The challenge remains to embed a culture of equality and inclusion within organisations so that leadership change or staff turnaround does not cause it to fade away.

“Education and training has an important role to play in achieving better levels of diversity & inclusion, which will ultimately benefit the organisations themselves and the aviation industry as a whole.”

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