Southwest recognizes, respects, and values differences. By fostering a Culture that embraces and utilizes diversity, we promote Teamwork and foster innovation that contributes to our overall success. In 2018, our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Department launched a voluntary curriculum for Leaders and Employees entitled Fearlessly Authentic. The curriculum was offered in partnership with Southwest Airlines University and the content focused on fostering an inclusive environment where Employees embrace differences and feel a sense of belonging.
After the 2018 launch, we began to look for ways to bring the topics covered in Fearlessly Authentic to life. Our goal was to help Leaders and Employees actively create an inclusive environment where they can operationalize diversity and inclusion and translate it into everyday actions. We want our Employees to feel welcomed, appreciated, and valued for their diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.
Over the years, our Employees have shared a strong desire for actionable learnings they could put into practice with our Customers and other Employees. Based on this feedback, we launched a quarterly event series called Inclusion in Action in 2019. Each event featured a speaker who addressed important topics related to inclusion and answered questions about how to practically enact change. These events focused on four themes:
Our minds are influenced by unconscious shortcuts that help us quickly sort, categorize, and make judgments about the constant streams of information we receive as we move through our daily lives. When unconscious shortcuts affect decisions on important issues, they can unintentionally influence the quality of our decision-making, which can negatively impact others.
Knowing Me, Knowing You
Most of us have had moments where we felt we needed to behave a certain way to fit in. But if we hide who we are at work, it can feel all-consuming and negatively affect our performance, as well as our self-esteem. By creating an environment of psychological safety, everyone can feel comfortable to express themselves, judgment-free.
Some messages might seem small in nature, but have serious unintentional impact for others. Small actions—such as the use of an unwelcome nickname or when we check our email or text messages while having one-on-one conversations with someone—can leave others feeling unimportant or disrespected. Each of us can help build an atmosphere of mutual respect by being self-aware and intentional about the messages we send others.
You know that feeling when you’re on the outside? No one enjoys that feeling, and at work it can hamper performance. When we are part of a group, we feel valued and secure—but when we’re left out, we experience physical and emotional hurt. By intentionally working to practice inclusion, we can create a Culture of belonging, where everyone feels valued.
In addition to our Inclusion in Action series, we demonstrated inclusion through collective conversations during Women’s History Month, Veterans Day, and at our annual Inclusion and Innovation Summit. For example, at the 2019 Women’s Day event, Pilot Tammie Jo Shults shared her path to a career in aviation that was strewn with naysayers. “It really came down to motivation and merit,” she said. “What was my motivation for being there and my merit? Was I good enough to be there?” Fortunately, Tammie Jo continued to pursue her dream even when there was no applause, and today her story can inspire others to do the same.
Our hard-working D&I Department helps drive our inclusion efforts forward and ensures that Southwest remains a top place to work for all Employees. To help spread our message of inclusivity, the D&I Department often works closely with our Diversity Council, which is made up of diverse Employees from various job roles, locations, and levels of experience throughout Southwest. The Diversity Council serves as a strategic asset to the business, dedicated to promoting a work environment that appreciates different backgrounds, experiences, and traditions while fostering inclusion and leveraging diversity to enhance organizational performance.
Our goal is to create the most impact and continue to evolve on our inclusion journey. Each year, we will evaluate our opportunities with a focus on Team, value, and respect.
See Footnote: 77) Active, full-time equivalent Employees as of December 31, 2019. Flight includes Cabin Service Support, Inflight, and Flight Operations. Ground, Customer, and Fleet Services includes Provisioning, Customer Services, Ground Operations, and Operations Coordination Center.