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How Bias Impacts Aviation Safety

Aviation safety improves with the introduction of psychological safety and emotional intelligence, but the full benefit of these enhancements will be hindered if organizations and individuals fail to appreciate and understand the impact of bias, explained author, speaker, Gulfstream G650 pilot and Founder and President of Aviation for Humanity, Kimberly Perkins during the recent NBAA GO Flight Operations “Turns Around a Pint” safety webinar.

“Psychological safety is that feeling where you can be your authentic self and speak up without negative repercussions in the workplace and it is fundamental to creating that safety culture that safety management systems talk about,” Perkins said during the educational webinar hosted by Max Grover, CAM, aviation safety officer at Dell Technologies.

To successfully introduce psychological safety, leaders must create an inclusive environment, but, said Perkins, this effort can be impeded if managers and team members, particularly in male-dominated industries like aviation, fail to understand the potential negativity of bias.

Organizations also should be wary of structural biases, especially biases that favor employees without caregiving responsibilities, warned Perkins, as this will limit the creativity and innovation that comes with a diverse workforce and restrict the pool of employees when demand for aviation workers exceeds the supply.

Perkins also explained that bias is a systemic problem. “Psychological safety and biases are not just affecting women and minorities; they are affecting everybody in aviation. If we want to talk about the sustainability of our industry [workforce], we will need to tap into a larger [talent] market, and that means investing in our human capital and making sure we are inclusive,” Perkins said.