Boeing details employee training improvements with FAA, activist investor sells stake in Disney

Plus, high-paying remote and hybrid jobs dry up.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s take a look at a few news stories from the past week and see what we can learn from them.

1. Boeing meets with FAA, commits to major changes

Boeing is looking to right the ship and rebuild its reputation as both a public company and employer following a string of incidents and the revelation of a lax safety record.

Boeing committed to detailed change after revealing some of the findings that FAA inspectors found in the company’s Washington facility that builds 737 Max planes. It could also shed light on activities at key supplier Spirit AeroSystems facilities as well.

The New York Times reports:

Boeing detailed these and other steps during a three-hour meeting with the F.A.A.’s administrator, Mike Whitaker, where the company submitted a “comprehensive action plan” that the regulator ordered in February.

Mr. Whitaker had given Boeing 90 days to develop a plan to make sweeping safety improvements after a midcabin panel known as a door plug blew out of a 737 Max 9 jet flying at about 16,000 feet on Jan. 5. No one was seriously injured during the flight.

The F.A.A. said in a statement on Thursday that “senior” leaders from the agency would “meet with Boeing weekly to review their performance metrics, progress and any challenges they’re facing in implementing the changes.”

“We need to see a strong and unwavering commitment to safety and quality that endures over time,” Mr. Whitaker said during a news conference on Thursday. “This is about systemic change, and there’s a lot of work to be done.”

In a statement, Boeing said the action plan it delivered to the F.A.A. was based on feedback it received from employees and through conversations with the regulator. Boeing provided some additional detail on the actions it was taking to improve quality but did not make the safety plan public.

In an email to employees, Stephanie Pope, the head of Boeing’s commercial plane unit and the company’s chief operating officer, said the company is investing in training, simplifying plans and processes, eliminating defects and improving quality and safety.

Specific changes that Boeing committed to include “expanding training for new hires to 14 weeks from 10 weeks; helping managers spend more time on the factory floor and less time in meetings; increasing inspections at Boeing and at a top supplier, and ordering more tools and equipment,” the report explains. Boeing pledged to change production processes to focus on building safer planes.

This news follows reports of Boeing’s consideration of an employee culture audit earlier this year in an attempt to improve internal processes and employee-employer relationships. When you’re in the public spotlight for negative press and less-than-stellar employee culture, you must commit to re-earning your stakeholders’ goodwill. Boeing still has a long way to go to earn back public trust as both a company and employer, but the aerospace giant taking the initiative to turn things around might help.

2. Activist investor who attempted Disney takeover sells stake in company

Earlier this year, Disney managed to defeat an uprising of activist investors on its board — and now one of those investors is selling his stake in the company. According to The New York Times, hedge fund billionaire Nelson Peltz has sold his shares in the entertainment behemoth. His departure comes after months of open criticism of Disney’s leadership under CEO Bob Iger and lack of a streaming strategy and a push for two seats on the Disney board.

In a piece this April, we outlined some of the top comms tips for organizations dealing with activist investors. Comms should take an integrated approach, have proper mechanisms for responses as things shift and change throughout the process, and fight the urge to get too defensive. Like in other crises, comms can help right the ship for stakeholders and employees by taking a balanced approach — these types of fights may not be an everyday occurrence, but it’s best to be prepared for anything and react accordingly.

3. High-paying remote, hybrid jobs vanish as RTO continues: report

Looking for a job that’ll both pay really well and let you work from home? You might have a tougher time than in previous years. According to a report by Ladders, remote job ability for top earners fell by 60% in the last year, with hybrid job availability falling by 95 % in the same bracket of workers.

Though much of the pressure comes from inflation, there’s no ignoring the fact that a continued RTO push is eliminating or moving once remote and hybrid jobs to in-person offices. While remote work has plenty of benefits, just because a company plans to return to the office doesn’t mean culture has to suffer. Positive culture can permeate organizations no matter where jobs are located, and communicators should point to that culture as a guide when creating messaging about RTO or new roles that are in-office only.

4. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.

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