Boeing Communications Chief Resigns Over Sexist Article He Wrote 3 Years Ago
Boeing’s communications chief Niel Golightly has resigned over an article he wrote more than three decades ago arguing women should not serve in combat.
The former U.S. military pilot’s exit leaves Boeing trying to fill the crucial role for the fourth time in less than three years, just as it is battling to shore up its brand after the prolonged safety grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX jetliner.
The Senior Vice President of Communications job has become the industry’s biggest hot seat as Boeing fends off criticism for its handling of the 737 MAX crisis.
In the December 1987 US Naval Institute magazine article titled ‘No Right to Fight,’ the former military pilot suggests women would disrupt ‘exclusively male intangibles’ which male soldiers fight for in war.
An excerpt from the article suggested that female soldiers could make a squadron appear ‘weak,’ possibly prompting defeat on the battlefield.
However, with a change of opinion, he released a statement, Golightly said:
My article was a 29-year-old Cold War navy pilot’s misguided contribution to a debate that was live at the time. My argument was embarrassingly wrong and offensive. The article is not a reflection of who I am, but nonetheless, I have decided that in the interest of the company I will step down. My argument was embarrassingly wrong and offensive. The article is not a reflection of who I am, but nonetheless, I have decided that in the interest of the company I will step down.
Golightly’s departure after just six months on the job, during which he was said to be introducing sweeping changes, followed the board’s review of an internal anonymous ethics complaint that flagged his article.
He decided to step down after discussions with Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun and others, Golightly said in his email.
I greatly respect Niel for stepping down in the interest of the company.
Greg Smith, Boeing’s chief financial officer and executive vice president of enterprise operations, will oversee the communications role for the time being according to a report by The Daily Mail.