More airline wokeism: United Airlines' new diversity goals for pilot trainees sets quotas

More airline wokeism: United Airlines' new diversity goals for pilot trainees sets quotas
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

When companies publicly announced a commitment to hiring women and people of color, back in the day, wasn’t that called affirmative action? It looks like some wannabe woke corporations are bringing it back in the name of diversity hiring. United Airlines is bringing it back 2021-style by pledging to train 5,000 new pilots by 2030, of which at least half will be women and people of color.

United Airlines is the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school. United Aviate Academy will begin accepting applications for the training program for commercial airline pilots. All 5,000 pilots will be guaranteed a job with United after they complete the requirements of the Aviate program. The academy has scholarship commitments from United Airlines and JPMorgan Chase. It expects to enroll 100 students in 2021. JPMorgan Chase, the airline’s credit card partner, has committed $1.2 million to support women and people of color who are accepted to United Aviate Academy. The first class of 20 pilots will begin their studies in the third quarter of 2021, with the class graduating in the first half of 2022. A variety of organizations and schools have partnered to help with applicant applications.

A variety of organizations, including the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Sisters of the Skies, the Latino Pilots Association and the Professional Asian Pilots Association, will help to select the applicants to receive the scholarships and grants funded by United and JPMorgan Chase.

The company has also partnered with three HBCUs, Delaware State University, Elizabeth City State University and Hampton University, to identify top talent and recruit them into the Aviate program.

In addition, United has partnered with Sallie Mae to offer private student loans for those United Aviate Academy students who may need additional financing.

This smacks of affirmative action and United is getting the kind of smackdown on social media it deserves. The airlines tweeted out their new diversity program with its message: “Our flight deck should reflect the diverse group of people on board our planes every day. That’s why we plan for 50% of the 5,000 pilots we train in the next decade to be women or people of color. Learn more and apply now.”

Look, I’m all for women and others being given a fair shot in the professional world. My first reaction, though, is likely how the majority of people looking at that tweet reacted – shouldn’t an airline concentrate on hiring the most qualified pilot candidates? You know, those less likely to crash the plane and kill us? United Airlines is going the way of identity politics – as long as a person checks off a box, they go to the head of the line. People shouldn’t receive preferential treatment based on gender or skin color. The scholarships are a good way to level the playing field and that should have been enough but, no. In order to tout how woke it is, United Airlines went further and flat-out said it will choose candidates based on gender and skin color. A total of $2.4 million in financial aid is terrific for those without the means to pursue a career in flying.

As the completely predictable blowback came in, United issued a clarification. “All the highly qualified candidates we accept into the Academy, regardless of race or sex, will have met or exceeded the standards we set for admittance.”

Another person pointed out that United won’t actually be licensing the newly-trained pilots. That is left to the FAA. The FAA holds everyone to the same standard. The key to United’s virtue-signaling is that the company plans to hire a 50% quota.

United Airlines would do well to take a pass on falling victim to the rush to prove how woke it is. Unlike Delta and American Airlines, both of whom are jumping into election law wars in Georgia and Texas, United Airlines went a different route and decided to go with this public relations campaign.

The airline has not clarified its hiring policy, though, and it remains unclear if its customers should worry that a female pilot, for example, was hired over a male pilot with better test results or was at a higher level of skills, just to fulfill the quota of 50%. That is the kind of doubt that is created with affirmative action, which is why that term is no longer used. It opens the door for accusations of reverse discrimination, as we have seen in past lawsuits. United went about this in a ham-handed way. The intentions are probably good but the execution is not.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on March 29, 2023