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Kaven Swan Discusses Improving Diversity Programs in the Aviation Industry

HOK’s Kaven Swan, a senior principal for the Aviation + Transportation practice, joined host Joe Petrie on the AviationPros podcast to explore how to improve diversity programs for disadvantaged, small, minority or women-owned business enterprises (DBE, SBE, MBE and WBE, respectively) looking to partner on aviation projects.

Excerpted from the AviationPros podcast:

On the importance and benefits of DBE participation for airport projects:

“Airports are basically mini cities. In many cities, the airport is one of the largest employers in that community. Any time you can have a DBE program that fosters inclusion and diversity, it leads to jobs—the key to economic growth and capacity building. It’s a true job generator.”

On outreach to engage small businesses for upcoming projects:

“When I work around the country, I try to visit [DBE/SBE/MBE/WBE] offices a year in advance and see who they are, where they’ve been and where they want to grow—really understand where they want to build capacity. Early engagement and early involvement are key because it allows the minority firms the opportunity to think about their business plan and strategy and get resources lined up.”

On steps airport leaders should take to improve DBE/SBE/MBE/WBE participation in airport projects:

“This is a perfect time to reexamine what we’ve been doing, look at new opportunities and not just continue to gravitate to the same old, same old. Getting more airlines and leadership executives more in tune with being creative and thinking out of the box is important. The industry is looking for firms, airports and people who are embracing diversity and inclusion.”

On the importance of incorporating diversity and inclusion programs into project work:

“[Diversity and inclusion] increase retention. It drives revenue because there are a diverse group of opinions. It fosters creativity and innovation and creates efficiency. It’s more important than ever. With the [U.S.] infrastructure money coming down the pike, this is the time for a self-examination and reassessment as to how we can do it better and smarter.”

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