When I speak to men about the lack of women in the aviation workforce, often their first reaction is that they’d love to hire more women, but women aren’t applying for the job.
I believe there are several reasons for this–from a lack of attention to talent pipeline development to job postings written in such a way to deter applicants. There are both long-term and short-term ways to begin to shift direction in this area, although long-term success depends upon some clear intention-setting.
1. Go where they are.
Where are the women you want to hire? They are in social media communities, volunteering at their local airports, or in associations like the 99s, which was started by Amelia Earhardt. They attend conferences like those hosted by Women in Aviation International or the International Aviation Women’s Association. If you’re looking for ethnic diversity, you might get involved in the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals or the Latin American Pilots Association. Take some time to go to a conference, listen to the programming, get involved in their worlds. This will help with point number three.
2. Start young.
Introduce people to your company at a young age. Allow your current employees time off to attend career days at their local schools. Take the initiative and schedule visits to universities that have aviation or engineering programs. You can participate in their job fairs, offer internships or scholarships at those universities, and introduce them to your company while they are deciding on a potential career path. While these investments don’t yield immediate returns, they do plant seeds. I can’t tell you how many young people I talk to who have always dreamed of working at a company to which they were exposed at an early age–and now work there.
3. Check your job description for gender bias.
One well known observation about women is that they don’t usually apply for jobs where they don’t meet 100% of the qualifications. In contrast, men will often apply if they meet 60% or more of the stated requirements. Adding some language to welcome hard-working, fast-learning applicants who don’t meet all the requirements can help. You may also want to have people similar to your desired profile read your job description and ask what is attractive or unattractive about that description. An objective outsider often will see something you don’t.
4. Communicate clear company values.
Not only is it important to establish company values and adhere to them, it’s also critical to describe what those look like in everyday action within your company. If a core value is prioritizing people, for instance, does that translate to not being expected to work during family time or a generous maternity leave policy?
The more clear you are about putting into practice the things you say you stand for–and clearly communicating what that looks like, the better vision any applicant can get about how great it is to work for your organization. If you also tie in a greater mission or purpose for your company, you’re likely to attract great candidates of every demographic group.
5. Use women in your marketing efforts.
Consumer studies show that buyers respond to stories and often buy from companies or brands with which they can relate. Do your marketing materials include all of the demographic groups that represent your customer base and who you’re looking to attract and hire?
Do you have those same sought-after voices speaking into your strategic initiatives? If so, make sure you illuminate this. I recently was able to facilitate a new plane sale for an aircraft manufacturer because they asked me to serve on a customer advisory council and help direct their initiatives to attract more female buyers. Representation matters.
Those are my suggestions for how to attract and hire more women, even if they’re not applying.
Do you want to find out more about Better Workplace Hiring and Retention? Good news–we have more workshops coming in 2023! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “Booking a Workshop Discovery Call” if you’re interested in learning more or booking a custom workshop for your team.