National Academies Press: OpenBook

Economic and Social Sustainability at Airports (2019)

Chapter: Interactive Breakout Discussions: Day 2

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Suggested Citation:"Interactive Breakout Discussions: Day 2." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Economic and Social Sustainability at Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25597.
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Page 11
Page 12
Suggested Citation:"Interactive Breakout Discussions: Day 2." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Economic and Social Sustainability at Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25597.
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Page 12

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11 Interactive Breakout Discussions: Day 2 Participants were offered additional breakout group options on the second day of the event. The summaries below reflect the synopses given by each group’s facilitator. Local and Global Social Impacts Steve Nakana, Port of Portland, Oregon, facilitator Emily Conway, Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport, reported on the discussion for this group. She noted the social impacts of technology and that there are many ways that technology can be leveraged for employees (i.e., coworker.com, which finds space for people to work together). There are, however, both positive and negative impacts. The group suggested added consideration of how jobs are changing because of technology and what is being done to retrain people whose jobs are lost. There was a discussion about cybersecurity and its effects. Some airports are developing workforce pipelines. Intern programs are good, but the investment in interns is questionable if there is no job at the end of the internship. The group discussed how to justify social programs from a financial and risk perspective. Do these programs have a payback in a few years? What are the possibilities of lawsuits versus the cost of not meeting needs (i.e., having only binary bathrooms and no gender-neutral options). It was suggested that social aspects need to be considered in planning and design from the beginning of projects. The group identified research opportunities including synthesis research documenting examples of airport projects focused on equity, guidance on how to incorporate equity as a project management skill, and the compilation of leadership/C-Suite best practices related to social and economic sustainability. Surrounding Community Considerations Kurt Gering, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, facilitator Kurt Gering reported on this group. The group discussed how to get out into the community before a project’s development and how to provide social benefits without revenue diversion. It was suggested that because of geography and the uniqueness of a community, outreach needs to be tailored to each location and not necessarily borrowed. The group discussed how airports are creating physical spaces to engage a community, such as bike trails and green development. Art—particularly locally commissioned pieces that give a sense of place—and culture were identified as other mechanisms for engagement. Teaming with nongovernmental organizations to tell the airport story through art is an innovative approach. It was suggested that airports should not be approaching a community for the first time with a request—airports should be engaging regularly for varied reasons to build a relationship. It was suggested that airports should find partners to use space with a community and to source locally where possible. It is also

12 worthwhile to work with carriers to build connections in a community of airport awareness and to find space at an airport that the community can use. Employee Considerations Steve Mayers, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, facilitator Steve Mayers reported on the discussion of this group. The group discussed the importance of defining employees as part of the community. He noted that few surveys bridge the gap between partners and an airport operator’s employees, but Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) did conduct a survey of this nature. Mayers stated that at some airports, employees felt that the surveys were a waste because employees questioned whether the surveys would be used or result in any change. In some instances, attendees noted airport employees having concerns about the use of data from a survey that is conducted by an airport and not a third party. Privacy is important. The group discussed the need for surveys of absenteeism and turnover rates and employee job satisfaction. There was a discussion about communication and how economic or social goals are communicated within an organization. Mayers noted that some airports hold briefings periodically—but that there appears to be a disconnect between senior staff and other staff. It was suggested that some staff may be able to communicate better with staff members at their same level, and others may be better at communicating with staff at different levels. Innovative ideas for employees include break rooms and nursing stations. Mayers noted that there needs to be a legal and political will to ensure that subcontractors receive fair wages. A public partnership for college education was suggested; Mayers cited two programs offering classes and professional development through this type of partnership: ATL University and Sea–Tac Airport’s Port Jobs Airport University. Some airports have on-site gyms and health facilities for the health and wellness of their workforce. Innovative ideas also included volunteer time off, job training for new placements, workplace flexibility, and bring-your-child-to-work days. Research is needed to ascertain what drives employee satisfaction.

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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Conference Proceedings on the Web 23: Economic and Social Sustainability at Airports is a compilation of the presentations and a summary of the ensuing discussions at May 7-8, 2018, forum in Washington, D.C.

The meeting brought together individuals from airports, airlines, academia, consulting, local and regional government, general sustainability professionals, and others. The forum included sessions on social sustainability, economic sustainability, keynotes on mitigating human trafficking and innovative development at airports, and interactive breakout discussions delving into myriad social and economic sustainability topics.

ACRP organized the event as part of its series of convening activities titled “ACRP Insight Events.” ACRP Insight Events are forums that foster dialogue among professionals across sectors, institutions, and industries.

ACRP Insight Events convene airport industry leaders and subject matter experts in various fields to encourage discussion and promote broader and deeper insight on topics of significance to airport operators. These in-depth, face-to-face gatherings are designed to promote communication and collaboration, foster innovation, and help identify areas of future interest and research, especially for topics of emerging importance.

Copies of the slides of presentations made at the form are available online. The literature review prepared for the event is also available online.

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