In an interview, actor John Cleese said he asked a psychiatrist friend how many in the psychiatric field honestly knew their job counseling the emotionally challenged. Cleese’s friend replied, “About 10%.” Cleese then asked other specialists from other fields and found the highest qualified percentage response was 20 – 22%. It makes one wonder what the percentage would be for those in aviation oversight.
A good friend of mine, a former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector (ASI), recently spoke with some FAA managers. Throughout the conversation, he became painfully aware of a troubling fact: The FAA had become ‘woke’. For many of us who made – and many loyal ASIs still making – the FAA the greatest safety agency, that FAA upper management pushes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs is sobering. Like critical race theory (CRT), DEI is not fact-based. Its implementation in the FAA’s safety-intense environment is a serious problem simply because of its negative effects on safety.
Is it accurate to say the FAA is woke? The FAA’s Jobs website delivers phrases like, “Our inclusive culture …” and “Because our diversity is so critical …”; along with the Department of Transportation’s own war on Racist Roads are clear indications of woke-ism. What is DEI’s intent? As a nation, we’re becoming deaf to government corruption. Most Federal agencies are out of control, which is why DEI and CRT thrive in the common sense vacuum. Like weeds in a garden, DEI and other perversive programs only benefit con men and bloated politicians who divide our industry along non-existent lines.
It’s right to say that DEI is not for every industry. If DEI is ever necessary, then reserve it for vacation resorts, like Disney that can hire per DEI dictates. If Disney hires a bearded man to play Cinderella only stockholders get hurt, not the general public. Resorts don’t represent safety issues, nor do the News, Entertainment, Auto Sales, Banking, Real Estate, Marketing or any other non-safety intensive industry.
DEI, as the second word suggests, is a push for ‘equity’, but to whose definition of the word? Lily Tang Williams, a Congressional candidate from New Hampshire’s second district and a Red China survivor, said ‘equity’ is a communist tactic. It demonizes certain classes as the cause of all this country’s troubles. She said, “I fear the country I love is becoming the country I left.”
What does that have to do with the FAA? The FAA is one government agency among many that is pushing DEI, a push directed by politicians. It’s a platform that emphasizes gender identification and sexual preference. It’s impossible to find a more safety irrelevant topic than what one’s sexual preference is or how one acts in private. What DEI has to do with aviation or being safety motivated is anyone’s guess. Professionals, both gay or heterosexual, never advertise their preference because sexual preference was never anyone’s business, and it never should be.
DEI lumps valid race and gender issues with gender identity to boost the latter’s credibility in a bold attempt to make DEI look factual … to use as a hiring skill. Are there race and gender biases? I haven’t seen bias in my forty years. I worked side-by-side with women and men of every race as a mechanic, manager and safety inspector. Gay or heterosexual issues never came up because – nobody cared! Yet, the only ones showing any bias are those promoting DEI. They think qualified men and women, gay or heterosexual, should be grouped with those suffering sexual dysphoria. They’re convinced sufferers from sexual dysphoria are maligned. But by whom? Who cares about sexual identification?
Here’s the rub. In a professional world, race and gender are as obvious as can be. In contrast, dressing contrary to one’s born gender is a choice that flies in the face of professionalism. No matter how accepting an airline is of cross-dressing or ‘finding oneself’, passengers find a bearded man in a dress unsettling. If one can’t dress professionally, why would one be expected to act professionally in an emergency? In safety, professionalism and trust are synonymous. Forcing passengers to accept ‘woke’ policies deprives them of their right to what every airline and the FAA guarantees: A Promise of Highest Level of Safety. Sexual identification? It’s not professional. Never has been. Why? Because nobody cares.
DEI dictates pilots should be hired for sexual identification, gender or race, not whether the pilot can safely fly an airplane or if the flight attendant can handle an emergency. Some airlines now employ Diversity counselors in the pilot interviews. Are these Diversity counselors there to assure job candidates’ qualifications or to make sure DEI policies are followed? What training do Diversity counselors receive that show their priority is safety? If DEI hiring practices don’t improve safety, the FAA should confront the airlines to remove the DEI policies from hiring practices for safety’s sake.
If the FAA is biased, then pre-DEI numbers would reflect clear data and fact-based trends on why DEI policies were needed. If not, then millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted on a scam. What were the White-versus-Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. flight attendant numbers like in 2017? How many women pilots were rejected for bias in 2017? Be clear on the facts. If the allegation is the FAA is racist, then show, with conclusive proof, that the FAA was racist. Otherwise, let the FAA worry about aviation safety.
The government is a mess. They’re still litigating vaccine mandates that, in the past proved ineffective at the least and dangerous at best. What happened to the FAA’s mission: “… to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world”? Doesn’t it seem the FAA is just phoning this DEI stuff in? Sure, their website points to DEI with, “Our inclusive culture …”; “Because our diversity is so critical …”; and “The mission of the FAA involves securing the skies of a diverse nation,” but these are political word-salads, buzz words – not an FAA commitment to DEI orthodoxies. Where does it say the FAA commits to DEI policies as a hiring guideline? It doesn’t because the FAA can’t take the DEI policies seriously. Instead, ‘woke’ folks are played for fools. The FAA sounds woke, so that it has deniability. Unfortunately, the FAA must continue the ruse, so they force DEI ‘training’ on their professional ASIs.
Unfortunately, this acknowledgement of DEI is costing the FAA credibility. FAA ASIs remain safety professionals, but they’re being forced to conduct their jobs as upper management dictates. Since FAA management jumped the shark, so must every ASI suffer the indignity as the safety agency is destroyed from the inside. These mistakes lead the public to ask about the FAA’s real job of certificate holder oversight and why so many years of providing, “… the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world,” ain’t been happening.
The International Civilian Aeronautical Organization – ICAO – cannot be taking the FAA seriously anymore either. With airlines now choosing ‘woke’ policies over safety, how long before international travelers read about these airlines’ ‘woke’ policies and start avoiding the US major airlines like the plague? The FAA will become the poster child for how not to be an oversight agency. They will become the Emmett Kelly of aviation, left only to ‘sweep’ up its own dwindling spotlight.
An excellent article by Janice Hisle (not an aviation journalist) called ‘Woke Airline Policies Threaten Safety, Workers Say’, related stories of major airline pilots and flight attendants being fired or harassed due to ‘woke’-ness. The FAA’s silence on this is deafening and they won’t engage these ‘woke’ airlines. Last month, a former Southwest Airlines (SWA) flight attendant won a $5 million lawsuit against SWA. How embarrassing for SWA that they fired her for anti-‘woke’ opinions on her personal Facebook page and not for safety violations. Following this decision she stated, “I think there are a ton of cases out there just like mine.” Does this mean other major airlines terminate safety professionals for woke reasons, like the lawsuit judge said SWA did? This should alarm all FAA Principal inspectors, that airline safety persons were terminated for non-safety reasons. These Principals should audit training records and flight attendant criteria, to determine if safety is at risk. The flying public should demand action.
To further highlight the insanity of DEI hiring, Ms. Hisle wrote that the industry actually follows something called environmental, social and governance (ESG) scores, an airline industry-wide rating of how ‘woke’ airlines’ ‘woke’-ness compares to other ‘woke’ airlines. ESG advisory groups exist, working behind the scenes to push diversity and inclusion – not safety – on the airline industry. Practices of this kind are why I don’t fly anymore.
Are safety ‘experts’ participating in the ‘woke’ agenda? Listing one’s pronouns on social media just demonstrates that even aviation folks are giving credibility to the ’woke’ agenda, which looks like promoting ‘woke’ is more important than promoting safety. How can they be taken seriously? Is the use of he/him or she/her a surrender to the latest fad? Are they now in with the ‘woke’ crowd? Maybe these woke aviation ‘experts’ can factually explain how being ‘woke’ makes us safe.
But perhaps the long-range goal is to make government so incompetent as to be irrelevant. With the push to defund police or accusing the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation of political bias, it appears that the goal is to trivialize government’s efficiency and deprive its front-line personnel from any interdependence, divide and conquer the agency’s mission. True victim? Public safety.
There’s an old saying in aviation, “There isn’t enough lipstick to make a pig look pretty.” The DEI policy is abusing those susceptible to racism or bias against women. Capitalizing on legitimate folks’ issues just to promote one group’s own unpopular agenda is just ugly. No matter how hard DEI policies try to force otherwise, they can’t be made appealing… and they hurt safety.
Safety isn’t selfish. It’s colorblind and is applied evenly across both race and gender. Safety could care less who one is attracted to. Safety does need to be taken seriously because it is the prime mission of aviation folks everywhere. We’re witnessing the beginning of the end; the pendulum has reached the end of travel in one direction and will soon swing back, but not before the FAA’s integrity gets crushed under ‘woke’-ism. The FAA is losing its footing in the 10% of qualified aviation organizations that know what they’re doing. The industry knows it and the flying public knows it. It will be interesting to see if FAA upper management figures it out.