Inclusivity Meets Individuality at Virgin Atlantic
28th September 2022
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.
Reflecting the diversity of the workforce and in a move that cements its position as the most inclusive airline in the skies, Virgin Atlantic 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 announcement is part of an on-going drive to champion the individuality of its people and customers and is complemented by the roll out of optional pronoun badges for all its people 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 from today 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 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.
Jamie Forsstroem, Cabin Crew at Virgin Atlantic commented:
“The updated gender identity policy is so important to me. 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 that has been released today.
Michelle Visage commented: “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.
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%).
Despite these positive benefits, 25% of Brits have felt pressure to hide their true selves at work, with 13% feeling uncomfortable making requests that enable them to express who they really are. Brits have dressed differently (30%) or in clothing they aren’t comfortable in (15%), changed the way they style their hair or makeup (22%) and covered up parts of their personality (38%) all in an attempt to fit in.
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.
Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Commercial Officer says,
“At Virgin Atlantic, we believe that everyone can take on the world, no matter who they are. 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.”
Pictured (l to r): Crew members Jamie Forsstreom, Tania Wiks, Alison Porte, Leigh Dixon, Gary Ogden join TV personality, Michelle Visage, to showcase Virgin Atlantic’s gender identity uniform policy and pronoun badges, rolled out across the airline from today.