Alaska Airlines has made a sincere promise to hire more African-American female pilots.
In a blog piece on their website, the airline educated readers on the importance of this issue, stating that “African American female pilots make up about one half of one percent of all professional pilots across the industry.” The shocking numbers prompted Alaska Airlines to do something about it.
Earlier this month, the airline signed a pledge, partnering with Sisters of the Skies, a nonprofit organization that is committed to increasing pilot diversity. With a target to hire primarily female African-American pilots, the new partnership wants to reach this new goal by 2025 and hopes to encourage young girls with a dream of flying to commit to that goal. “When we foster an inclusive environment that recognizes, respects, and visibly reflects all people, it makes us stronger,” Alaska Airlines vice president of people Andy Schneider said. “Quite simply, creating an airline people love is not possible unless we walk the talk around diversity and inclusion.”
With signing the pledge, Alaska Airlines has to make sure a few things are in place over the next six years. The airline is promising to enhance programs that provide education, training and mentoring to aspiring female pilots and most importantly serve the proper promotion to existing African-American female pilots that currently work for them. Alaska Airlines first officer and Sisters of the Skies member Kim Ford is proud of this new partnership and thinks this is a positive move.
“I’m so proud that Alaska Airlines is dedicated to supporting aerospace education, inspiring youth to achieve their dreams, and to increasing diversity at Alaska and Horizon,” Ford said. “It is also important to study the barriers to women of color getting to the flight deck and pathways to success in their careers.” The airline made headlines last year when two black female pilots made a groundbreaking flight from San Francisco to Portland on Mother’s Day together. After making the announcement to passengers and crew members, Captain Tara Wright and First Officer Mallory Cave were greeted with applause. One passenger recorded the historic moment and posted it on social media, receiving over 50,000 retweets.
This new promise the airline is making is important to Wright, who is a member of Sisters of the Skies and volunteers to inspire other young women pilots. “I met a high school senior recently who said she couldn’t be a pilot because her vision wasn’t good,” Wright remembered. “I told her, ‘Well, you’ve got some outdated information.’ We need more support mechanisms in place, so young girls of color see aviation as a viable career path.”
Since the facts are that there isn’t a pool of qualified African-American women who are ready to be hired, this new pledge will help change that in the right way. “If we quadruple the number of African American female pilots at Alaska, we’ll be leading the charge,” Wright said. “That would be a huge achievement when you consider where we are as an industry.”