Published: April 18, 2022
Today, a triad of women-owned businesses, Women And Drones, P3 Tech Consulting and the Diversity Development Network of Canada (DDNC), announced the release of the first-of-its kind Uncrewed Aircraft System (UAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) 2021 Survey Report.
The Report culminates more than eight months of work that began in July 2021. At that time, the three companies collaborated to develop and implement a national survey to understand the current DEI status within the UAS and AAM sector.
Marlene Conway Diels, President of DDNC, explained the purpose of the project. “We hoped, through this DEI Survey report, to set the bar in establishing a DEI benchmark and provide real opportunities to provide access, opportunity and sustainable growth for both diverse peoples from all groups and the AAM/UAS industry,” she explained. The project achieved those ends.
The survey remained open between August 6 and September 17, 2021. It probed a range of topics, including respondent organizations’ UAS/AAM size, location, funding, identity group composition at all levels, as well as their available DEI efforts and initiatives. The survey also addressed respondent perceptions relating to DEI and willingness to participate in future change-making programs.
The Vertical Flight Society (VFS), the world’s only international technical society for engineers, scientists and others working to advance vertical flight technology, sponsored $50 gift cards in support of a random draw as an incentive for survey completion. Ultimately, over 1000 UAS/AAM industry professionals provided survey responses.
The co-authors then compiled and analyzed the data over the next several months. The data validated that women and other minority identity groups remain underrepresented in the UAS and AAM industry, particularly in leadership positions. The African American identity group consistently surveyed as the least represented across all employee categories (entrant, middle management, and leadership).
That said, respondents also expressed beliefs that DEI is important to the success of UAS/AAM and UAS/AAM-related businesses, that a lack of DEI would result in financial impacts to businesses and that it is important for the industry to understand the value DEI brings to the table. Perhaps most heartening, the data also indicated that the industry, as represented by respondents, desires change and that they are willing to help make that change happen. Specifically, almost all respondents expressed interest in participating in an UAS/AAM DEI Advisory Group (DAG) to provide industry input towards DEI, skills & competencies development, programming and training to ensure Industry relevance.
“This was an absolute labor of love,” explained Dawn Zoldi, CEO of P3 Tech Consulting and host of the popular Dawn of Drones podcast. “We spent countless hours working on this project because we believe in the importance of DEI and accessibility to the industry.” Zoldi also dedicated the month of March on her podcast to the theme of DEI. Rossmark was one of several diverse industry guests. (Watch all episodes on demand on DroneLife TV: (https://bit.ly/3jD9wbt).
In late January of this year, the companies released a free downloadable preliminary summary, consisting of the top ten industry takeaways from the survey.
As an additional lead up to the Report’s final release, Sharon Rossmark, CEO Women And Drones, participated in a VFS DEI panel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biu1HiNRjN0), Zoldi appeared on VFS’ new DiversiFlite Podcast ( https://bit.ly/3jB4f4t) and Zoldi and Conway Diels presented to the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ Know Before You Fly Your Drone Workshop. (View the presentation: https://bit.ly/3jHcV9w)
“We knew we had a diversity problem in the industry. We wanted to understand the extent of the problem and gauge industry interest in changing it. Our survey and report scoped both of these things. We are ready to now do the work needed to impact change, together,” said Rossmark. “Individuals and companies interested in learning more about the state of industry DEI and how to make changes in their own organizations should seriously consider obtaining this report,” she continued.
As follow up to the report, the collaborators plan to put out a call for Diversity Advisory Group members soon, with follow-on educational initiatives. They also plan to launch a 2022 survey in August.
The 125-page market report is now available for purchase through the Women And Drones website (https://bit.ly/3xAcUvU), on the DDNC website (https://bit.ly/3O5bRdv) and through the P3 Tech Consulting site (https://www.p3techconsulting.com).
For additional information on the report or to get involved to make change, contact POCs:
Dawn Zoldi: [email protected]