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Is this the most inclusive airline in the skies?


Virgin Atlantic has launched its updated gender identity policy, giving its crew, pilots, and ground team the option to choose which of the iconic uniforms, designed by Vivienne Westwood, best represents them – no matter their gender, gender identity, or gender expression.

 

The airline will offer its people a fluid approach to its red and burgundy uniforms, meaning LGBTQ+ colleagues will be able to choose either the red or the burgundy uniform, depending on which best reflects themselves.

 

 

The move is complemented by the roll out of optional pronoun badges for all Virgin Atlantic staff and those travelling with the airline. This move enables everyone to clearly communicate and be addressed by their pronouns. The badges will be available to teams and customers and customers simply need to ask for their preferred badge at the check in desk or in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

 

Virgin Atlantic has also updated its ticketing systems to allow for those who hold passports with gender neutral gender markers to select ‘U’ or ‘X’ gender codes on their booking as well as the gender-neutral title, ‘Mx’. 

 

Currently citizens from a small number of countries including the USA, India and Pakistan, are able to hold these passports and travellers must travel on the codes that match their passport. In lieu of passports with gender neutral gender markers being available for all, Virgin Atlantic is implementing a longer-term plan to amend communication preferences to ensure customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns across all touchpoints.

 

Mandatory inclusivity training will also be rolled out for its people at all levels across Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Atlantic Holidays as well as a series of inclusivity learning initiatives for tourism partners and hotels within destinations such as the Caribbean to ensure all our customers feel welcome despite barriers to LGBTQ+ equality. 

 

Launched as part of its ‘Be Yourself’ agenda, the airline has already unveiled a series of industry-leading inclusivity initiatives for its people to ensure they can truly be themselves at work and feel comfortable in their roles. This latest addition follows a decision in 2019 to offer cabin crew the choice whether to wear make-up as well as the option to wear trousers and flat shoes. More recently the airline lifted restrictions around allowing visible tattoos for crew members and its front line people.

 

“The updated gender identity policy is so important to me,” Jamie Forsstroem, Cabin Crew at Virgin Atlantic said.

 

“As a non-binary person, it allows me to be myself at work and have the choice in what uniform I wear.”

 

Michelle Visage, Tanya Compas, Talulah-Eve and Tyreece Nye have teamed up with Virgin Atlantic to showcase the new policy in a stylised fashion shoot.

 

 

“As the mother of a non-binary child, and as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, these efforts by Virgin Atlantic to further inclusivity for its people are extremely important and personal to me,” Michelle Visage said. 

 

“People feel empowered when they are wearing what best represents them, and this gender identity policy allows people to embrace who they are and bring their full selves to work.”

 

The announcement comes as research finds that enabling employees to express their true selves at work boosts happiness (65%), increases mental wellbeing (49%), creates a more positive workplace culture (36%) and provides a better experience for customers (24%). Employees also reported feeling more accepted and comfortable when able to be their true selves at work (26%) and an increased sense of loyalty to their employer (21%).

 

The airline’s initiatives also include an update of its existing trans inclusion policies, which already allows time off for medical treatments related to gender transition, personal choice of changing & shower facilities that align with the gender a person identifies as and co-creation of a personalised transitioning plan.

 

“At Virgin Atlantic, we believe that everyone can take on the world, no matter who they are,” Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Commercial Officer said. 

 

“That’s why it’s so important that we enable our people to embrace their individuality and be their true selves at work. It is for that reason that we want to allow our people to wear the uniform that best suits them and how they identify and ensure our customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns.”

 
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Published: 30 September 2022

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