DJI Mavic 3

These groups are most underrepresented in the drone industry

An ongoing challenge for the drone industry: maintaining representation for minority identity, groups including women. But one identity group consistently remains highly underrepresented across all categories of employees: the African American identity group.

While most minority groups fall short in terms of representation primarily when it comes to leadership positions, the African American identity group is underrepresented across all employee categories (entrant, middle management, and leadership).

That’s according to a new, first-of-its kind analysis of drone industry representation, dubbed the Uncrewed Aircraft System (UAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) 2021 Survey Report

The 125-page market report was released today after about eight months of gathering and analyzing data, which included a national survey to understand the current DEI status within the UAS and AAM sector. The survey was coordinated by a triad of women-owned businesses, Women And Drones, P3 Tech Consulting and the Diversity Development Network of Canada (DDNC).

““We knew we had a diversity problem in the industry,” said Sharon Rossmark, who leads Women and Drones. “We wanted to understand the extent of the problem and gauge industry interest in changing it.”

The 15-minute, online survey was based on responses collected in August and September 2021. Survey topics included 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. About 1,000 responses were collected in total.

Preliminary results released in January 2022 showed that almost 75% of respondents said they felt moderate to extreme concern about the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the drone industry in general. Meanwhile, 80% of respondents expressed moderate to extreme concern about the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their own drone-related business or organizations, and an even higher 81% of survey respondents expressed moderate to extreme interest in increasing DEI in their companies.

underrepresented DEI UAS survey
Figure from “Women and Drones – DDNC – P3 Tech 2021 UAS/AAM Industry DEI” survey.

Some other interesting results about supporting underrepresented groups in drones:

  • Respondents expressed beliefs that DEI is important to the success of UAS/AAM and UAS/AAM-related businesses.
  • Respondents said 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.
  • Data indicated that the industry desires change and that they are willing to help make that change happen.
  • 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.

Who is this report for?

Its creators say the survey is not just for Human Resources personnel (although they could certainly benefit from reading it) seeking to improve hiring of and support for underrepresented groups in their companies.

“This report is ideal for anyone in a position of leadership in a UAS/AAM ecosystem business, organization or company that is looking to understand the DEI challenges in the industry and make their organization or business more diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible,” said Dawn Zoldi, who heads P3 Tech Consulting. “We wrote it for everyone in the industry, academia or government and welcome those interested in enhancing DEIA.”

The survey costs $700 if purchased before May 18, 2022. It then goes up in price to about $800.

Marlene Conway Diels, President of DDNC, said the survey was designed “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.”

Up next, the survey creators say they plan to put out a call for Diversity Advisory Group members with follow-on educational initiatives. They also plan to launch a 2022 survey in August.

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