The airline industry is allegedly compromising worker safety with its push to implement corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies, former and current industry employees claim.

Airlines cancel flights in a struggle to fill vacant job positions for pilots. Meanwhile, flight attendants, airport staff, and some industry professionals claim DEI hiring programs are compromising worker safety and risking people’s lives for the sake of race, gender identity, and sexual preference.

“If you’re looking for a diverse workforce and not a qualified workforce, you’ve got issues,” an American Airlines pilot told The Epoch Times. “We’re not putting the best up-front.”

“We have people’s lives in our hands,” he continued. “It’s just like with doctors. If you go to a doctor, you want to go to the best doctor you can.”

So far, he admitted, there have not been “any accidents because of diversity,” but he warned, “The potential is there.”

Detractors suggest that when standards are lowered or less-qualified employees are hired, the risk that something can go tragically wrong becomes greater.

The interviewees alleged that Southwest Airlines has allowed its DEI hires to constitute a “protected class,” letting them bend or break the rules and giving them “extra chances to pass required skills tests.”

The “DEI special-status hiring” has pulled the airline into potentially dangerous territory. Furthermore, for the first time in Southwest’s 51-year history, a non-pilot is in charge of hiring pilots, according to a letter from the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.

“We are just one step away from hiring pilots based upon mere reviews of their resumes,” association president Casey Murray wrote to union members.

One interviewee who spoke with The Epoch Times blamed the onset of DEI policies for sowing division among employees. The flight attendant said that people were never labeled before DEI was implemented.

“I find it very divisive. … Now everyone is labeled, divided by race, gender, sexual orientation, … whatever,” she said.

Delta, American, United, and Southwest airlines all publicly disclose DEI-related information for investors. This typically includes data like minority recruitment and racial makeup.

One elected official pushing back on DEI and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) programs is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He accused the airlines of “leveraging corporate power to impose an ideological agenda on society.

“Why do we need DEI and ESG programs?” asked one Southwest pilot who has flown for decades. “Passengers just want people like me to get them and their bags to the same place at the same time, safely … DEI and ESG do nothing to support that — zero.”

Supporters of DEI hiring practices insist that, far from negatively affecting job performance, the programs provide tangible benefits to companies. For example, a 2014 investigation by McKinsey & Company claimed that “companies with the most ethnically diverse executive teams … are 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability.”