A lot has changed since November 1980, when Lou Freeman was hired as a Pilot at Southwest. After six years in the Air Force, Lou returned home to Dallas and got a job with Southwest. At the time, he didn’t realize that he was the Company’s only black Pilot. “It didn’t take long to figure out,” he remembers. “We only had 187 pilots.”
Throughout his career, Lou served as a Leader and mentor to Employees of all ranks. He became the first black Chief Pilot of any major U.S. airline in 1992. He served as one of our inaugural Adopt-A-Pilot participants in Washington, D.C. in 1997, helping launch our award-winning program that puts Pilots in classrooms to inspire students. Through our Continuing the Legacy in Aviation program, Lou has worked alongside the Tuskegee Airmen to show diverse youth that hard work can help them overcome barriers and achieve their dreams. And in November 2005, Lou led the crew that flew Rosa Parks’ remains to her final resting place, an experience that he described as one of the greatest honors of his life.
Lou’s legacy continues, as shown in Southwest’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. “Southwest is a place that allowed Lou to grow and excel in what he loved dearly,” says Raquel Daniels, Southwest’s Director of Diversity & Inclusion. “It is our desire that all Employees are able to bring their whole selves to work and use their unique gifts and talents to assist Southwest in its Vision to become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”11) The 2017 Southwest Airlines One Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Specific forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements related to (i) the Company’s Vision; (ii) the Company’s network and growth plans, strategies, opportunities, and expectations; (iii) the Company’s financial position, outlook, goals, targets, strategies, plans, expectations, and projected results of operations, including specific factors expected to impact the Company’s results of operations; (iv) the Company’s plans and expectations with respect to its new reservation system and other technology initiatives, and the Company’s related multi-faceted financial and operational expectations and opportunities; (v) the Company’s capacity plans and expectations; (vi) the Company’s fleet plans, strategies, and expectations, including its fleet modernization initiatives, and the Company’s related financial and operational expectations; (vii) the Company’s operational initiatives and related plans and expectations, including with respect to its technology initiatives; (viii) the Company’s expectations related to its management of risk associated with changing jet fuel prices; (ix) the Company’s expectations and goals with respect to returning value to Shareholders; and (x) the Company’s other initiatives, including construction, safety, and environmental initiatives, and related plans and expectations. These statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that are difficult to predict and that could cause actual results to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by them. Factors include, among others, (i) changes in demand for the Company's services and other changes in consumer behavior; (ii) the impact of a continually changing business environment, economic conditions, fuel prices, actions of competitors (including without limitation pricing, product, scheduling, capacity, and network decisions, and consolidation and alliance activities), and other factors beyond the Company’s control, on the Company's business decisions, plans, strategies, and results; (iii) the impact of governmental regulations and other governmental actions related to the Company's operations; (iv) the Company’s dependence on third parties, in particular with respect to its fleet and technology plans; (v) the Company's ability to timely and effectively implement, transition, and maintain the necessary information technology systems and infrastructure to support its operations and initiatives; (vi) the Company’s ability to timely and effectively prioritize its initiatives and related expenditures; (vii) the impact of labor matters on the Company’s business decisions, plans, strategies, and costs; (viii) changes in aircraft fuel prices, the impact of hedge accounting, and any changes to the Company’s fuel hedging strategies and positions; and (ix) other factors, as described in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the detailed factors discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2017.
Building an inclusive Culture is a journey—not a fixed destination. We seek to use the inspiration that Employees, like Lou, provide to fuel us on our journey.
Raquel leads our Diversity Council, a strategic Team that helps Employees build bridges and better relate and connect with one another. The Diversity & Inclusion Department hosts events throughout the year, and Council Members share in the mission of fostering an environment where all Employees feel heard and valued.
Raquel is quick to point out that Lou’s legacy isn’t finished, as there is still work to be done in the area of diversity and inclusion. “Building an inclusive Culture is a journey—not a fixed destination. We seek to use the inspiration that Employees, like Lou, provide to fuel us on our journey.”
On June 8, 2017, Captain Lou Freeman flew his last commercial flight—full of friends, family, and Cohearts—from Dallas to Chicago, where he is now retired. “I and others at Southwest have been able to make the strides we have made because our Senior Leaders have always supported our efforts,” said Lou. “I’m very thankful for that.” After 36 years of service to Southwest, his legacy still breaks down barriers, inspires others to reach for their dreams, and helps make our Company a better, more inclusive place.
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