CAA Equality and Diversity Progress Report July 2014

This page provides an update on progress with the CAA's equality and diversity strategy and objectives.

Part 1: What have we done so far?


Our strategic aims for the period April 2012 – March 2015 were as follows:

a)               To deliver our Equality Duty as an industry regulator and licensing authority;

b)               To have employees who are fully aware and engaged with Diversity;

c)               To be able to demonstrate clear business benefits from Diversity;

d)               To have a workforce more reflective of the outside world; and

e)               To have confidence that anyone who comes into contact with us, by whatever means and for whatever reason, knows they have been treated with dignity and respect.

Our strategy is intended to incorporate our Public Sector Equality Duty to:  

a)         eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act;

b)         advance equality of opportunity; and

c)         foster good relationships between those who share a protected characteristic (for example ethnic minority, female, disabled) and those who do not.

We set ourselves annual objectives, within the 5 strands above, designed to lead us to achieve the 3 year strategy. We subsequently set some specific targets in order to provide additional focus.

We recognised that this 3 year period was an important opportunity for us to re-focus on equality and diversity, as it coincided with transformational change in the organisation. This transformation would affect the entire organisation, a large number of roles were being re-defined and colleagues were going to be taking on new roles. 

We established an Equality and Diversity Steering Group, consisting of colleagues from across the organisation. This was intended not only help to give us direction but also to help the organisation achieve the annual objectives and deliver our 3 year strategy.  

Annual objectives

Appendix A shows the objectives we set ourselves in 2012/13 and how we have done against them. Appendix B shows the same for 2013/14.

The appendices show that we have made good progress in many areas. Some of our work, such as in dignity and respect, has been to tackle any remaining outmoded behaviours and evolve the prevailing culture. Such cultural change and the influencing of long-held beliefs and prejudices does not happen overnight, or even over 3 years. However we have a made a good start. We believe that we are starting to influence the way our managers and other employees think about equality and diversity. We are doing this by communications in our weekly briefings, on our intranet and in training programmes. We have also raised the profile through our new network of People Management Coaches, who are trained and available to provide support to colleagues who have concerns about bullying or harassment.

We work within an industry that is traditionally dominated by white males. Women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities have long been under-represented in many of the labour markets in which we compete. However, things are gradually changing, and our own workforce has seen a slow but steady increase in all three of those elements in the last ten years. Of course we also operate in non-technical labour markets, for example in administrative roles, and in those areas we have made, and continue to make, faster progress.


In November 2012 we added a small set of targets to our strategy. We wanted to increase our objectivity and create added drive. The targets focused on two specific areas that we particularly wanted to improve on. These were to increase the proportion of senior colleagues who were women, from 14% to at least 20%, and to raise the overall representation of ethnic minorities in our workforce, from just over 6% towards 10%. We also wanted to generally increase the representation of disabled people in the workforce, although we have not yet set ourselves a specific target for that.

The following table shows our targets and how we are doing against them so far.


Position at March 2012

Target for March 2015

Stretch target for March 2015

Position at March 2014

Women in Grade 3 and above












To increase. No specific target yet.

To increase. No specific target yet.


We have made good progress in respect of disability, largely as a result of better disclosure of disability. We took advice from the Business Disability Forum and encouraged our employees to tell us about any disability and how we may help them overcome its effect. This had a large degree of success and doubled the number of colleagues disclosing a disability. We put some additional workplace adjustments in place for disability, and renewed our offer of ongoing support to colleagues who have a disability.

A number of initiatives are underway, which we believe will make a difference to us achieving our targets. For example, we are creating new career paths that will increasingly allow better opportunities for advancement through the organisation for people without a technical background and related qualifications and/or licenses. We are also setting up a centralised professional recruitment function, which will deal with external and internal recruitment and selection. It will identify and remove any remaining unfair barriers to women being appointed to senior roles or to ethnic minority candidates, as well as to those with other protected characteristics.   

Our grade 3 (the lowest of those covered in our target population), is a key entry point for technical aviation professionals such as Flight Operations Inspectors, who are predominantly male and white. Realistically this profile will continue for some years to come. This structural issue is being eroded over time, assisted by the new career paths, which are likely to  benefit currently under-represented groups in the more senior roles. In the meantime, to help track progress towards our target for women in the most senior roles, we have set an intermediate target that relates to the more senior of those roles. We therefore aim for 20% of our colleagues in grades 2 and above to be female by 2017. 16% of those roles are currently held by women and we believe this will represent a challenging but achievable intermediate target.   

Part 2: Where to next?

We are pleased to have put some measures in place that, whilst not immediately having an obvious impact on industry and workforce profiles, will make a sound contribution to changing these for the better in the future.

However, we have made very little progress with our targets and need to take further steps. We are therefore raising our game. We recognise that achievement of our goals may take time, but we are determined to take actions that will lead to changes in attitude and significant change. There is still some way to go before we will have fully achieved our objectives.

Fundamental changes to our workforce profile will occur only over time. We will not be making recruitment or other decisions based on personal characteristics of candidates or employees because we believe it is important to focus only on relevant information that affects a person’s suitability and we do not wish to unfairly discriminate. We do, however, expect to make steady progress over the next few years. Given this and our industry profile, we are anticipating an evolution rather than a revolution.

We aim to provide excellent value for money to all our industry stakeholders, and this includes improving Equality and Diversity and delivering on our public sector equality duties.

We have put a number of things in place during the past couple of years that will continue to help evolve equality and diversity as part of our “business as usual” processes. These are indicated in the activities shown in the appendices. In 2014/15 we are focusing on one key element that is intended to make a positive disproportionate impact. This focus will be on our recruitment and selection methods. Our intention is to overhaul our processes in that area in order to remove, as far as possible, any risks of unfair bias or prejudice. By making the processes as objective as practicable, we can be more certain that we are recruiting the best people, regardless of any personal characteristics or other irrelevant information.

Strategy review

Our current 3 year Equality and Diversity strategy is scheduled for review in April 2015. We will publish our new three year strategy at that time. Three years is a relatively short time in which to make significant cultural and workforce changes, given a workforce turnover of around 10% annually. Our new strategy will therefore seek to build on the current one but give more focus and stretch us toward achieving significant and sustainable change.