A total of six U.S. airlines got perfect scores on the 2017 Corporate Equality Index, which rates employers on their commitment to workplace equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual (LGBT) employees.
Companies were evaluated on such LGBT-related policies and practices as non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programmes, and public engagement with the LGBT community.
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines were among 517 American companies getting a perfect score on the index, which identifies the best places to work in terms of LGBT workplace equality.
American Airlines has received a perfect score on CEI since it was conceived in 2002. The legacy air carrier was the first airline to make the list, and it is the only airline to have made the list with a perfect score in the 15 years that the list has been running.
Within the greater travel industry, 13 hotels, resorts, and casinos also got perfect scores. Virgin America and SkyWest Airlines got scores of 90.
Somewhat surprisingly, Hawaiian Airlines got a rather disappointing score of 65, but at least the Honolulu-based air carrier got a mention.
Airline Employees Marching with Pride
Five of the six airlines getting perfect scores issued press releases announcing the news.
Not sure what happened to Alaska Airlines, which has maintained a relatively high profile within the LGBT community in recent years.
LGBT overload? Exhausted from the dogfight with Delta Air Lines for supremacy in the Emerald City? Whatever …
Some excerpts from the press releases follow (in alphabetical order):
“American Airlines takes inspiration from the ideals of the Corporate Equality Index,” says Patrick O’Keeffe, American’s Vice President – PSS and Corporate Technology and the co-executive sponsor of the airline’s Pride Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG).
“This milestone reflects our employees’ longstanding dedication to diversity, inclusion and equality throughout the company – and to serving our loyal LGBT customers every day. We are grateful to the Human Rights Campaign for this recognition.”
Delta Air Lines
“We are honored to achieve this distinction, which is a testament to our core values, including integrity and respect for all Delta people and our customers,” says Joanne Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Delta Air Lines.
“Delta is committed to fostering our unique, inclusive culture and attracting talent that reflects our diverse customer base worldwide.”
“JetBlue is thrilled to once again earn a top rating in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index,” says Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s President and CEO.
“Here at JetBlue we are proud to embrace our company’s rich diversity and celebrate the LGBT crewmembers who have helped make us one of America’s best places to work.”
“Southwest Airlines is proud to be named as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality for the second year in a row,” says Ellen Torbert, Vice President Diversity and Inclusion at Southwest Airlines.
“We are dedicated to continuing to provide our LGBT Employees—and all of our Employees—with a great work environment where they can not only be themselves; they are celebrated for being themselves.”
“At United, our employees represent a rich variety of backgrounds, cultures and experiences,” says Mike Bonds, Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Employee Relations.
“Not only do we embrace the uniqueness of our employees, but we have made it our mission to leverage each individual’s differences and talents to create an inclusive work community that can better serve our global customers.”
Human Rights Campaign Foundation
CEI is a project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a body that champions equal rights for sexual minorities.
The 2017 CEI rated 1,043 businesses in the report, which evaluates several LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community.
First Mover Advantage
When it comes to LGBT rights, American Airlines has something of a first mover advantage.
As a founding corporate member of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, American Airlines led the way in terms of gender equality and inclusion, pioneering policies and practices to the benefit of the LGBT community – both as employees and as passengers.
The Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG) evolved into to Gay Lesbian Employees of American (GLEAM), which provided gay and lesbian employees with education, resources, and – most importantly – a voice within the airline.
American Airlines was, in fact, the first major U.S. airline to …
- Include sexual orientation in corporate non-discrimination policies;
- Include gender identity in corporate non-discrimination policies;
- Implement domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples;
- Extend Family and Medical Leave Act eligibility to same-sex couples and their families;
- Endorse the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to treat taxation of health insurance benefits to domestic partners equally with married spouses;
- Have a company recognized resource group for LGBT employees.
This list goes on …
Says U.S. Secretary for Labor Hilda Solis: “You were the first airline to offer domestic partner benefits, the first to make sure transgender workers are included in your anti-discrimination policy, and the first to add LGBT-certified businesses to your supply chain.”
You might bill yourself as “San Francisco’s Hometown Airline”, but I have a question, Virgin America: Whatever happened to United Airlines?
They’ve been around the San Francisco Bay Area for close to 100 years, they maintain a major hub at San Francisco International Airport (yours only pales in comparison), and that’s also where the Friendly Skies maintain a massive maintenance facility, in case you didn’t know …
Have you ever heard of the term, “Johnny Come Lately”?
Hometown Airline or Friendly Skies?
Not sure how it came about, but my daddy arranged a private tour of the facility for himself and me back it the day.
Or maybe I pulled it off all by myself …
All I remember is this: it was one of the highlights of my childhood. I was an aviation buff from an early age. I loved seeing how those massive airplanes were overhauled in that massive facility. There were several Douglas DC-8s and a Douglas DC-7, or was it a Douglas DC-6?
But I digress …
It’s nice that you’ve served as the “Official Airline of San Francisco Pride” for nine consecutive years, but there’s more to it than that.
Cynical types might think of it as something more of a marketing strategy rather than a genuine commitment to diversity in the workplace.
But, hey, 90 points out of 100 isn’t bad. Keep up the good work. Let’s hope you improve your score in 2018. It’s only been nine years …
Top 10 List
I wasn’t sure how to conclude this analysis, so I did what I always do in such situations: I googled “LBGT + corporate_social_responsibility”.
Can you guess what happened? I got a top 10 list on Triple Pundit, which offered a “fun, easy read on a topic you care about”.
And it would only take five minutes to catch up “on the latest trends in sustainability and business”.
Five minutes? How about five SECONDS!!!
It didn’t even take me five seconds to discover that an airline was on the list. Can you guess which one it was???
- Levi Strauss and Company
- Honey Maid
- Caesars Entertainment
- American Airlines
- Gap, Incorporated
OMG! I got it right!
But if it only took me five seconds, I only have one thing to say: this airline has been at it for something like 25 years. It might be the thing to do now, but it wasn’t the thing to do then.
It was that stuff that took place behind the scenes, without fanfare, without parade sponsorships, without all the hype, that started to change lives, one life at a time. and it cleared the runway … for the other airlines to follow in its tailwind ..
Until it became the thing to do … Talk about a first-mover advantage …