Jet Linx Team Member Takeaways from the 2019 Aviation Inclusion Summit
From Sunday, November 17 to Tuesday, November 19, the 2019 Aviation Inclusion Summit took place in Phoenix, hosted by the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA). Dee Ruleaux, Director of Human Capital Partnerships, and Ari Sarmento, System Chief Pilot, both attended the inaugural NGPA summit.
The NGPA is an international organization of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) pilots and other aviation enthusiasts from around the world. Through education, outreach programs, and social events, the organization encourages members of the LGBTQ community to begin piloting careers; fosters equal treatment of LGBTQ aviators through advocacy and outreach; promotes aviation safety and provides an affirming social and professional network for LGBTQ aviators.
The Summit’s agenda addressed inclusion across a wide spectrum of aviation specialties including scheduled airlines, the military, collegiate aviation, and business and general aviation. Speakers representing the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Allied Pilots Association (APA), the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), Latino Pilots Association (LPA), Women in Aviation International (WAI), Professional Asian Pilots Association (PAPA), Professional Pilots of Tomorrow (PPOT) and others presented on the value of diversity and inclusion within their organizations and workplaces. There’s a positive correlation between diverse companies and improved financial returns, as a diverse group of people often reach better decisions faster. More than a moral or ethical imperative, it’s now become a business imperative.
“A major takeaway for me was the difference between diversity and inclusion. You can hire a diverse population, but to practice inclusion is more difficult. You have to educate people on how to understand each other,” Ruleaux explained. “We all have our own special traits and characteristics, and those need to be understood and recognized.”
“You can hire someone that’s different than you, and now you’re sitting in an airplane with them for three days. If you don’t understand them and there’s no education about inclusion and mutual respect, diversity doesn’t matter much,” Sarmento added.
Ruleaux and Sarmento took part in breakout sessions, listened to various panels and keynote speakers, and came back to the National Operations Center with some major takeaways.
“It was a tremendous learning experience with some really eye-opening exercises. My whole life I feel as if I have been marching for something, and this has reinvigorated me. I’ve found another reason to march,” Ruleaux explained.
Sarmento and Ruleaux plant to take actionable steps in the future to increase both diversity and inclusion. “The next step is taking action. Whether it’s modifying our training or hosting our own Diversity and Inclusion Summit, we’re planning to take action. We can say that we’re inclusive and diverse, but we have to act on these things to make any real difference,” said Ruleaux.
To learn more about the NGPA, visit their website at www.ngpa.org