Posted by Sade Williams
In an industry that can be male-dominated, Delta women are flying high thanks to a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion that is breaking down gender barriers.
And the airline’s effort to attract and retain women into airline careers is being recognized across the industry. Last year, Delta again achieved 100 percent pay parity for employees in frontline jobs and was awarded a “Best Workplace for Women” by Great Place To Work® and Fortune for the third year in a row – the only airline on the list.
Across the business, women have their voices heard. Delta’s SHE Business Resource Group serves as a place for employees of all genders to engage in conversations about gender in the workplace. SHE also has an international branch for employees in the Europe, Middle East, Africa, India region, launched in 2019. Meanwhile, Delta also empowers and prioritizes women-owned businesses throughout its supply chain with a robust 20 year supplier diversity program.
Gender is no obstacle when it comes to any role at Delta – from loading bags and predicting weather, to flying planes and carrying out vital maintenance. Delta women work in every division across the airline, thanks to a fair, equal and diverse playing ground for candidates in every position. Delta constantly strives to dismantle barriers to career entry and advancement, and currently has 19 female leaders in officer positions.
Aircraft maintenance technician, Britany Abney works on some of Delta’s newest aircraft, like the A350 and A330-900neos and believes being a woman is irrelevant when it comes to the job. “I’ve the same capabilities as anyone, regardless of gender,” she says. “The most challenging part is learning all the different components; you need a good eye for detail and a commitment to doing your best every day.”
Delta is leading the industry when it comes to using cutting-edge technology to predict weather pattern and of its in-house team of 26 meteorologists, six are women. Delta’s Lead Meteorologist, Heather Heitzman, says a love of the job overshadows gender. Her advice to young women interested in the field? “Follow your passion and curiosity, no matter what. You’ll find yourself surrounded by people just as passionate as you are about what you do.”
For Ramp Agent, Karen Borali, the biggest misconception about the job is that it is not for women. “We have the same responsibilities as the guys, working in all weathers, handling thousands of bags, mail and freight every day and if a plane needs de-icing, we take our turn,” she says. “Man or woman, we look out for each other, working to a tight set of procedures so Delta customers and co-workers go home safe.”
Inspiring the future
Delta’s pipeline strategy focuses on farming for the next generation – addressing underrepresentation by growing and inspiring talent, nurturing individuals and removing economic, racial and gender barriers.
The airline’s annual WING – Women Inspiring our Next Generation – Flight originated in 2015 as an effort to diversify the industry and expose girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers at a young age. WING flights are planned and orchestrated exclusively by women – including pilots, ramp agents, gate agents boarding and women in the tower guiding the aircraft on its way out. More than 600 students have participated in WING flights over five years.
First officer Aluel Bol says it’s vital to expose girls to careers in aviation at a young age. “Children see the world without limitations or boundaries,” she says. “Introducing young girls to the industry sparks interest before they’ve formed preconceptions of ‘male only’ roles.”
Delta is on par with the aviation industry with approximately 5% pilots who are women. In the past four years, 7.4% of Delta’s new hire pilots have been women.
“Becoming a pilot might seem daunting, but we’re working on that,” Bol says. “Women on the flight deck can be few and far between but the WING Flight is one way we are working to drive those numbers upward – the sky’s really not the limit.”