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  • Writer's pictureJessica Webster

Pool vs. Pipeline: WE are the ones we've been waiting for

When I was a young flight instructor, I worked for a collegiate institution. That college had an excellent reputation that still follows me; a developed program and quality experiential training. I learned from esteemed professors and qualified team leads. There were over 40 flight instructors and, at any time, only three females in the cadre and they were all white. While there can be a lot said about the lack of diversity in aviation - particularly in collegiate aviation - this institution understood the value of the talent pool as opposed to the pipeline.

And it added much value. We worked in suites and each suite had a senior instructor that mentored and was responsible for their professional growth. We got to know each other well, each other’s students, and often collaborated to discuss issues or problems we were facing at work. If one of us was sick or unable to fly that day, several of us were equally qualified and knowledgeable about that student and could step in.

What do you think about when you read the word pipeline? I think of a narrow linear process with limited scope and one size fits all, flowing toward one destination. It doesn't sound diverse.

What about a pool?
I see fluidity, space, room for different sizes and shapes to pull from - ACCESS.

Our aviation leaders are being tasked by their corporate organizations and the industry to increase their diversity statistics. But how? One pervasive idea is to increase awareness and support at the collegiate level. Bring in more women, people of color, and underrepresented cohorts into their existing systems- their pipeline. If we recruit those cohorts early on, teach them how to fly, how to embody the culture of each business aviation organization, mold them to fit into the system we currently espouse- the diversity issue will be solved! Yet, it’s not working.

The problem with that model is foundational.

The pipeline is rigged for monotony and the system as its destination is failing us.

It’s a system that does not support the diverse people with diverse needs that we want to embody - women, people of color, and underrepresented cohorts in our industry. The pipeline is too linear and a structural barrier to access proficiency and accomplishment. The core of this pipeline is structural bias. It no longer serves us. And yet, we are still using it.

The “pool” of talent is the future of work.

Today's aviation cohorts are not the same cohorts I taught alongside at that collegiate institution fifteen years ago. The new generation of diverse candidates that we envisage to be highly qualified, high functioning candidates have different work-life requirements. This generation necessitates collaboration with the organizations they serve. Culture and identity are critical points when choosing where to offer their talent. Work flexibility is a must—integration key.

If we stand a chance to be innovative, to meet the disruption of the status quo happening in every industry that's seeing exponential growth, we need diverse individuals. To recruit those individuals, we must create the proper systems for them to thrive. If we want to retain that top talent we speak about, organizations can think differently about their future of work to create a space where innate value is honored and deference is codified.

Want more women? Solve for the Caregiving bias.

Want more culturally diverse cohorts? Smash the pipeline and build a pool.

Want to know what that could look like for your organization? Just ask me!

For more information about Hera's programs please visit our page at

OR to speak with Jess directly contact her at

If you would like more background on the facts, visit our research page at

Jessica is a mom, partner, pilot, and the Founder & President of Hera Aviation Group. She enjoys long flights in Class A Airspace interacting with one ATC at a time.

She also loves to laugh with her grandmother, watch reality TV, dance with her Littles, drink a Starbucks that has a ridiculously long drink order, and shop for really cool trainers.

She loves the sky but her truly happy place is on the water.

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