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  • Mattie Bohanan

What we can learn about Inclusion from a Passenger Briefing

A term that gets thrown out a lot in today’s day and age is “diversity and inclusion.” Diversity and inclusion are what HERA advocates for - to ensure that underrepresented cohorts in aviation get the same sorts of opportunities as those that predominately dominate aviation demographics.

However, I want to take a minute to discuss the “and inclusion” part of “diversity and inclusion.” Often, I find that it is easy for an organization to preach diversity and maybe even be “diverse,” but not inclusive.

Diversity is great. Do not get me wrong. But, if there isn’t any inclusion to embrace the ideology, perspectives, and talents of the people that bring diversity, then the diversity isn’t being utilized. It’s one thing to have the numbers on paper, but another one to empower anyone and everyone to speak up - to feel heard.

The unique vantage points that people have hold value. These varying vantage points are what make a group of people successful because they ensure all bases and situations get covered.

Think of inclusivity from a different perspective: there are three people in a small, four-seater airplane. There are two pilots in the front two seats and one passenger who doesn’t know how to fly in the back. During cruise, the passenger sees an aircraft that looks like it’s getting close. The passenger tries to speak up and alert the pilots of the upcoming traffic. In this scenario, would the pilots ignore the passenger because they aren’t a pilot and have a different background? Or would they listen and take appropriate action?

Another unique value that inclusivity brings is motivation. Dr. Raymond Wlodkowski, a psychologist in adult and professional learning, authored a book entitled Diversity & Motivation. Here, he establishes “four intersecting motivational conditions.” And the first one is (drum roll please): establishing inclusion!

In the book, he focuses on learners and teachers, but the principle can be translated to other types of settings. When people feel respected and connected to each other, they become more motivated to participate and try their best because they can see their value matters.

Take the same perspective as previously addressed: flying in a small GA aircraft. During a preflight passenger briefing, pilots often encourage passengers to always speak up about traffic, even if they assume the pilot already sees it. Here, the pilot establishes that their vantage point has value. Now, that passenger who doesn’t have a background in aviation won’t assume that the pilots see the airplane because they do this all the time, and she doesn’t. She will speak up, and she knows that the pilots want her input.

Just because you aren’t on a leisurely GA flight, doesn’t mean that varying viewpoints aren’t a critical key to success and longevity. When everyone can work together to create a complete picture of what is happening, solutions can be made that pave way for improvement – ensuring the utmost level of success and representation. To do this, diversity and inclusion are necessary. In-flight or not, keep listening to and encouraging those passengers to speak up; they have a pretty accurate picture of what’s going on. :)

Mattie is a CFI/CFII and a Graduate Research Assistant at Auburn University, where she is pursuing an M.Ed. in Adult Education. She enjoys drinking her morning coffee, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


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