In Plain Sight: An Analysis of Factors That Influence the Recruitment and Retention of Black Aviation Professionals

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Becky Lutte
Theodore Johnson
Wei-Jie Liao


Racial minorities remain significantly underrepresented in aviation. To gain the advantages of broader representation and to address the workforce needs of the industry, aviation must attract and retain the best possible talent from a broad workforce pool. The purpose of this research is to examine the factors that influence the recruitment and retention of Black aviation professionals. A survey of members of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals was conducted. Results show youth outreach is essential and the industry must address creating a more inclusive culture. Evidence showed racism, discrimination and sexism remain and negatively impact the ability to recruit and retain the Black aviation workforce. Results also reveal the intersectionality between race and gender leads to unique challenges for retention of Black women who are more likely to leave the industry than Black men, requiring the need to focus on bias, pay equity, and advancement of women. Access to career guidance resources and mentors are also identified needs. The results establish the factors that positively and negatively influence the recruitment and retention of Black aviation professionals, leading to strategies to address workforce needs through attracting a talent pool in plain sight.

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