The International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) represents more than 5,000 members worldwide who are involved in operating, manufacturing, maintaining, selling, purchasing, financing, leasing, appraising, insuring or other activities related to the commercial aviation sector. The association provides these aviation professionals with networking and educational opportunities, but it had a problem; specifically, the under-representation of women in this male-dominated industry, on the association’s board, on committees, and as speakers and panelists at its many events across the globe.
During the last two decades, the number of women in the aviation industry has steadily increased and women can now be found in almost every aviation occupation. For ISTAT, when looking to build a strategy around diversity, equity, and inclusion, this was the most immediate pain point.
“As an organization, ISTAT is committed to increasing the visibility of women in its ranks and about two years ago, consulted with an outside firm and others to focus their attention on women by first evaluating the current state of the organization, devising a strategy that includes 12-month and three-year goals through 2023, developing leadership engagement, and then executing the strategy,” said Guilherme Lopes, a Smithbucklin executive director that serves ISTAT.
Highlights of ISTAT’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy include:
- Creating a dashboard with key reporting requirements to track and analyze data around male vs. female representation within ISTAT. This information is then used in board reports.
- Creating an “inspirational” governance structure that includes writing the association’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion into the bylaws in order to infuse it into every area of the organization.
- Providing board members with an intensive ongoing training in diversity, equity, and inclusion; and asking them to create a diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership pledge.
- Increasing female representation on the executive board and committees over time from 40% to 50%.
Perhaps the most visible and potentially impactful step is increasing opportunities for women to engage as speakers and panelists at ISTAT events and conferences, which take place several times a year. ISTAT aims for 30% female representation within speakers selected.
In an ISTAT podcast commemorating International Women’s Day this year, ISTAT board member Marilyn Gan, Senior Vice President and Head of Asia Pacific, Vmo Aircraft Leasing, said ISTAT seeks to “…give more women the opportunity to join these panels, who are extremely talented, motivated, and leaders in their own right, but had never been asked.”
Most ISTAT events also include a Women’s Networking Reception that has grown over time from around 25 women to, at last count, over 125 women in attendance.
Listen to the ISTAT International Women’s Day podcast to gain a better understanding of ISTAT’s diversity, equity, and inclusion vision.
Kimberly Crooms is in the Corporate Marketing unit at Smithbucklin.