- The Washington Times
Thursday, April 8, 2021


United Airlines‘ officials announced that its pilot training program over the next decade will focus on diversity, and at least half of its planned 5,000 new-hire pilots will be women and minorities. They hope, that is.

Great. What if they suck at flying, though?

It’s one thing to have a goal to diversify. It’s another thing to put diversification above safety.

Put it this way: As a potential passenger, if it comes to picking the plane piloted by the White guy with years of experience versus the Black female who was coddled along the training way by executives who wanted to put out a press release about their new and shiny Diversity Push Program, it’ll be the White guy with years of experience who’s picked to fly the friendly skies, every day and twice on Sundays.

As a matter of fact, as a potential passenger considering the list of qualities most desired in a pilot, skin color and sex are at the bottom, well behind safety record, years of experience and military flight history, far below even favorite ice cream flavor, happiest memory and answers to such crucial questions as Ginger or Mary Ann, Beatles or Rolling Stones, chess or checkers, hockey or baseball.

That is to say: Some things shouldn’t be diversified simply for the sake of diversifying.

“We want to make sure that we are tapping into a big deep talent pool and not limiting ourselves to just one section of the pond,” said ex-President Barack Obama’s former press secretary, Josh Earnest, who now serves as chief communications officer for United, Newsmax reported.

That’s nice.

But aren’t the opportunities already there?

Currently, United’s pilot pool of 12,000 is broken into 7% women and 13% minorities, fewer than 100 of whom are Black women.

It’s not as if that 7% is the company’s imposed cap. If more women wanted to fly, the door’s opened; all they have to do is enter. Same-same with minorities. Presumably, there are no signs hanging on United’s training grounds for pilots that say, “No Women Allowed,” “No Blacks Allowed,” “Black Women Especially Not Allowed,” or the like.

So what United is doing is making the argument that the only reason pilots are primarily White and male is because of discrimination and that it’s the modern-day job of the socially conscious company to rectify that discrimination. But this is America; we’ve already rectified those discrepancies. We’ve already addressed those disparities. We’ve already fixed those bits of historical offenses. It’s called constitutional amendments. It’s called civil rights laws. It’s called the court system. And now?

And now, if women want to pilot — they can. If Blacks want to pilot — they can. They just have to meet the same standards as any other skin-colored, male-gendered pilot. 

What’s wrong with that?

United is playing a dangerous game here.

Putting diversity before skill is a shaky path for any organization to tread because it encourages the elevation of those who otherwise wouldn’t be elevated if the standards of elevation were simply based on talent, or skill, or capability.

But flying a plane is different from, say, teaching at a college.

Some diversification plans carry greater weight than others. 

If airlines hire pilots based on skin color more than talent, what’s next in the social justice and equity list, doctors? Brain surgeons? 

“Although women account for 49% of medical school graduates in the U.S., they represent only 12% of all neurosurgery residents,” Northwest Neurosurgery Institute reported.

Slope, meet slippery. Some jobs should stick with the standards of skill level and nothing else.

United Airlines is to be commended for drumming up interest among women and minorities to become pilots.

But setting an arbitrary number of women and minority recruits for pilot training is nothing more than pandering to the far-leftist social justice crowd that happens to have the bully pulpit in the political world at this particular moment. It’s reckless and could endanger passenger lives. That’s not to say women and minorities can’t pilot as well or even better than the majority of White men who currently fly United’s skies.

That is to say, however, that basing pilot training and hiring decisions on anything other than skill level logically sets safety down a notch. That may serve some public relations good among the socialist types. But passengers on airplanes deserve to know the pilot in the cockpit is there because he or she is the best at flying planes that money can buy — not a new hire who made the cut because of corporate quotas for skin colors.

Come to think of it, women and minorities who get hired as pilots need to know that, as well.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE. Her latest book, “Socialists Don’t Sleep: Christians Must Rise Or America Will Fall,” is available by clicking HERE.

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