Boeing Releases First-Ever Diversity Report, Moves To Bolster Inclusion Efforts
Company today issued the first assessment of workforce diversity in its 105-year history, presenting a mixed picture of inclusiveness that senior management says is roughly on par with the rest of the aerospace industry.
The research, which was begun early last year, found that 22.9% of the company’s workforce are women, including nearly one in three (31.8%) executives and over one in five (22.2%) managers.
With regard to racial and ethnic diversity, the report found that Asian Americans are significantly more represented in the Boeing workforce than in the general population (14.2% versus 5.4%). Likewise, they are statistically over-represented among executives (8.3%), managers (7.9%), engineers (17.6%), and production workers (16.6%). Asian Americans are also 13.9% of new hires.
The numbers for African Americans and Latinos were less positive, with Black employees representing 6.4% of the overall workforce and Latino employees 7.0%.
The percentage of African Americans who are executives (6.5%) and managers (6.0%) is consistent with the aggregate for the overall workforce, but that number falls to 4.4% for engineers and rises to 7.6% for production/maintenance workers. The percentage of Black executive council members, the top internal management body, is an unusually high 25%. Meanwhile, 8.3% of board members are Black.
Latinos are largely missing from the upper ranks of management—only 4% of executives are Latino—but they are 6.2% of managers, 7.6% of engineers, and 7.2% of production workers. As in the case of Black managers, these percentages significantly trail the share of the general population that is Latino, currently estimated to exceed 17% (Black Americans are 13%).
Some of these findings may reflect where Boeing workers are concentrated in the U.S., home to all major Boeing production and engineering facilities. For instance, 40% of the Boeing workforce is located in Washington State, a state in which African Americans are under-represented and Asian Americans are over-represented relative to the national population.
However, Boeing management is not making excuses. In an email sent to employees, Boeing CEO David Calhoun observed that “we are on a par with the aerospace industry, and we have made advancements in some areas, but we are not where we want to be.”
The company last year put in place an “equity action plan” to raise the presence of under-represented groups in its workforce, and has established a Racial Equity Task Force as an internal think tank to develop inclusion mechanisms.
Calhoun said in his email that Boeing has a zero-tolerance approach to discriminatory behavior. Since June of 2020, Boeing has terminated 65 employees and taken corrective action against 53 others for behavior deemed to be racist or hateful.
The company acknowledges that its assessment of workforce diversity is incomplete, and plans to expand efforts at inclusion in the future. Boeing’s chief human resources officer, Michael D’Ambrose, told me Thursday that he views the first report as “putting a stake in the ground, from which we can improve.” The numbers are important, but D’Ambrose says the real goal is to change Boeing’s culture because the research on how diversity and inclusion can improve a company’s performance is “compelling.”
One area where Boeing wants to do better is in tracking the progress of LGBTQ+ employees within the company. It expects to generate metrics on that facet of the workforce in future reports. Some companies in aerospace, most notably Raytheon, have been recognized for their welcoming approach to LGBTQ+ employees.
Raising the presence of historically disadvantaged racial or ethnic groups may be more of a challenge. As an initial step, management has set a goal of increasing the representation of African Americans within Boeing by 20%. Today’s report lists over a dozen initiatives aimed at promoting diversity, all of them seemingly tied to D’Ambrose’s emphasis on cultural change.
The fact that Boeing pursued its diversity assessment in the midst of one of the worst years in the company’s history presumably reflects the priority it assigns to becoming more inclusive. Like the rest of America, Boeing is waking up to ways in which it can better tap under-utilized talent in the nation’s population.