Southwest Responds to Pride Story
Southwest’s unedited response:
For more than 47 years, the Heart of Southwest Airlines has been its People. Southwest is legendary for offering all Employees a Culture based upon The Golden Rule, where all forms of diversity are appreciated and all individuals are welcome as members of an inclusive Southwest Family.
To question Southwest’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness is not an accurate evaluation of the all-year-long support that we proudly offer to the LGBTQ community. Here are some examples:
• In 2017, Southwest Airlines was recognized for our continued commitment to equality by being named as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for the third consecutive year.
• Southwest Airlines proudly sponsors LGBTQ-focused nonprofit organizations throughout the country that focus on important issues like LGBTQ equality, entrepreneurship, public leadership, and creating safe and equitable workplace environments, to name a few. Through those long-term investments in the communities where our Employees and Customers live and work, our community partners are able to making lasting, positive impacts that benefit the LGBTQ communities. You can learn more about some of the organizations we proudly support by visiting: https://www.southwest.com/
html/southwest-difference/ community-involvement/glbt/ partners.html
• We also are very proud of our Diversity Council which was organized to serve as a strategic partner dedicated to promoting a work environment that celebrates differences, fosters inclusion, and leverages diversity to enhance organizational performance. The Diversity Council is comprised of Employees across race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and work groups.
In the past, we’ve done things like distribute a press release, and sponsor Pride events; this year, we decided to be a bit more creative with showing our support by sharing a well-received love story from two of our Employees via Southwest’s social media channels. This celebratory video is on par with how we have recently celebrated other diversity months (a few examples below). Additionally, many of our Employees represented Southwest in branded t-shirts at Pride parades throughout the country.
While our communication tactics this year might not resonate with the personal opinion of your writer, no one should question our support of LGBTQ communities and the LUV we extend to our valued LGBTQ Southwest Employees and Customers every day of the year.
– Southwest Public Relations
Although Southwest did not provide any specifics on the company’s Pride parade involvement, one reader confirmed Southwest employees marched in Denver Pride:
Southwest’s LUVless Pride Month – Opinion[Original Post]
All but one major U.S. airline went all OUT this June for LGBTQ Pride Month. Delta sponsored ten Pride events, United’s CEO marched with employees, and American reaffirmed its 20+ year commitment to the LGBTQ community. Alaska, Hawaiian, and JetBlue joined the “Big Three” in showing the many ways airlines #FlyWithPride.
Where was Southwest?
LUVable Southwest Had Little to Say…
A LUV story with #Pride was the only visible – and that’s being generous – Pride message from Southwest. Despite the title, the video (below) has little to do with Pride Month or Southwest’s commitment to the LGBTQ community.
Full disclosure, I am a former Southwest intern; I worked in communications one summer and D&I (diversity and inclusion) the next. I can personally speak to the legendary company culture, which in my opinion, absolutely fosters inclusion and acceptance. Southwest’s entire brand ethos centers around LUV and its employees.
That’s exactly why the Southwest’s peanuts-small Pride ‘celebration’ really stings.
Southwest’s Inaction Was Not Unintentional
Southwest is incredibly brand-conscious – if you don’t believe me, read the 180-page style guide (bottom left corner of the page). Southwest leaders speak publicly about fighting every day to stand out from competitors. They certainly do things differently at Southwest, but the airline is very aware of the competitive landscape.
Pride Month is hard to miss (visually speaking), especially when six U.S. airlines share social media posts, march in parades, and publicly speak out in support of equality. Surely, someone at Southwest noticed American and United’s rainbow-logo profile pictures.
“We don’t want to be controversial or polarizing”
is was a decent argument for a major corporation ten years ago. Except, we live in 2018 where everything – including doing nothing – makes a statement. Southwest wasn’t afraid to take a stand on keeping families connected. Visible invisibility says a lot in today’s world.
What Happened, Southwest?
Southwest used to be among the more visible LGBTQ-friendly brands. The airline created a dedicated ‘Gay Travel’ site southwest.com/gaytravel and marketed directly to LGBTQ consumers, like this 2009 GSD&M ad campaign (right). The gay travel site now redirects to a more general page about the company’s LGBT Outreach.
Southwest’s direct support of LGBTQ-focused nonprofits is certainly praiseworthy, as is the company’s rating of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI). Southwest began offering same-sex partner benefits in 2001, long before it was “cool.”
Why so quiet, then?
Southwest Has an Important Voice
LUV ’em or not, Southwest is one of the most powerful and respected consumer brands. The company demonstrated its incredible communication prowess with the handling of flight 1380; the company does not blunder its PR or marketing.
Pride is about visibility – showing your true colors – and celebrating progress loud and proud. Yes, inclusive policies and donated dollars are important, but so is supporting LGBTQ and ally employees who want to share their Southwest Pride publicly.
Clearly Southwest is not anti-gay. But it does feel like Southwest is intentionally hiding its support.
I’m not feeling the LUV, Southwest. Are you?
American, Delta, and United Celebrate LGBTQ Pride
American Airlines – 20+ Years of LGBTQ Inclusion
American was ‘first out of the gate’ in its vocal support of the LGBTQ community over 20 years ago. American was the first airline to offer domestic partner benefits, first to include transgender employees in the company’s anti-discrimination policy, and first to include LGBT-certified businesses in its supplier diversity program.
American CEO Doug Parker was vocal in the company’s support of the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality:
Today’s decision reaffirms the commitment of companies like American that recognize equality is good for business and society as a whole.
Delta Air Lines – Official Sponsor of Nine U.S. Pride Events
Delta showed its Pride in Flight this June as the official airline sponsor of nine Pride events across the U.S. Delta also teamed up with JV (joint venture) partner Virgin Atlantic to co-sponsor events in Boston, New York, and Seattle. The carriers will also sponsor London Pride on July 7 and Atlanta Pride on October 14.
United Airlines – Pride Flies With Us
United got personal this Pride month, sharing stories from employees about what Pride means to them. United marched in six U.S. cities, Mexico City, and London (July 7). Chief Executive Oscar Munoz even joined in on the fun!
United CEO Oscar Munoz marched with employees
Alaska, Hawaiian, and JetBlue Also #FlyWithPride
— Hawaiian Airlines (@HawaiianAir) June 21, 2018
— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) June 24, 2018
Again, where was Southwest?
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