Inclusivity is in the air!
With the rise of gay rights movements worldwide, aviation companies have become some of the most vocal supporters of queer causes. Promising workspace equality and involvement with the community, they have started quenching doubts that it is all just rainbow-washing to profit off Pride Month.
Among the most formidable driving forces pushing for inclusivity in aviation are organizations run by people fighting for equality on the ground — and in the air. Since its founding in 1990, the National Gay Pilot Association has become the largest and most influential group of LGBTQ+ professionals and enthusiasts worldwide.
One prominent example would be Troy Merritt, the Vice President of NGPA. Meritt grew up highly interested in aviation throughout his adolescence, playing flight simulators to help him gain a lot of fundamental knowledge. He first learned about NGPA while learning to fly in 2012 and 2013, although he hesitated to join until 2016 as he was nervous connecting his identity as a gay person with aviation. “I never saw the two as having any connection. When I took a chance on NGPA, I learned there was an entire community of LGBTQ+ aviation enthusiasts and pilots who I could connect with.”
However, NGPA is much more than just a tight-knit community of like-minded aviation nerds who also happen to be queer. The nonprofit strives to make a long-lasting difference through its Inclusion Training Team, a volunteer-based brigade that partners with companies around the globe to develop impactful awareness initiatives and facilitate how they can incorporate inclusive themes into existing workplace training programs.
NGPA’s standout work with brands like United Airlines and WheelsUp is a harbinger of a new era in LGBTQ+ friendly aviation.
“Including a rainbow flag in branding is not enough to engage this consumer,” said Thomas Fry, the director of growth marketing and public relations at Wheels Up, the second-largest private aircraft operator in the U.S.
Fry contends that members of the LGTBQ+ community are among the savviest consumers in the marketplace regarding corporate social responsibility — and they know authenticity when they see it. “LGBTQ+ campaigns must support and give back to the community somehow,” he added.
Wheels Up’s first-ever chief growth officer, Stephanie Chung (the first African-American president of JetSuite, a significant private aviation company), who brought forth unprecedented efforts to highlight Wheels Up’s commitment to the community, like a photo shoot that featured LGBTQ+ talent and a formal partnership with the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGTLA). “Having the consumer see themselves in an authentic way is important for building brand preference, trust, and loyalty,” he said. “This is a strong signal that we are creating a safe space and are committed to supporting the community.”
Diversity initiatives at Wheels Up come from the inside out. The company is also amplifying proactive recruiting to diversify its candidate pipeline, teaming up with organizations like the NGPA, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, and Women in Aviation International.
Get to know us more at:
- The NGPA: An Inclusive Community for All Aviators — Microsoft Flight …. https://www.flightsimulator.com/ngpa/
- In the Aviation Industry, the LGBTQ+ Experience Just Keeps Getting Better. https://www.tripsavvy.com/lgbtq-experiences-in-aviation-5188825
- SCIENCE — Queer Cafe. https://www.queercafe.net/science.html