Niel Golightly
Niel Golightly

Boeing communications chief Niel Golightly has quit because of an employee complaint about an article that he wrote in 1987 as a Navy pilot questioning the ability of women to serve in combat.

CFO Greg Smith will assume the duties of Golightly, who was senior VP-communications, on an interim basis until a successor is found

Golightly joined Boeing Jan. 1 after serving as global chief communications officer at Fiat Chrysler At FCA, he was in charge of PR strategy, media relations and employee/executive communications. Earlier, he held communications jobs at Royal Dutch Shell and Ford Motor after serving as a fighter pilot in the US Navy.

In announcing Goilightly's departure, Boeing emphasized that it did not agree with his article written 33 years ago.

“I want to emphasize our Company’s unrelenting commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its dimensions, and to ensuring that all of our employees have an equal opportunity to contribute and excel," said CEO David Calhoun in his statement.

Golightly said his statement was one from a 29-year-old speaking about a debate that was life at that time.

"My argument was embarrassingly wrong and offensive. The dialogue that followed its publication 33 years ago quickly opened my eyes, indelibly changed my mind, and shaped the principles of fairness, inclusion, respect and diversity that have guided my professional life since," he said.