Connecting People to what’s important in their lives means that we are connecting with People—Employees and Customers—on the issues and topics that are important in their lives.
Social advocacy is a sign of the times as Customers freely share their experiences and opinions with brands across all industries. Through channels like social media, traditional media, and direct feedback, we have a window to understand what is important to our Customers, Employees, Shareholders, and the public at large. By being present on these platforms and matching our actions with our values, we have the opportunity to engage, creating new Customers, advocates, and even defenders.
Our social brand is live, in real-time, with or without us. We need to be there to help guide and frame it. That’s where Southwest’s Social Topics Committee comes in. Established in 2015, this cross-functional Committee examines how the Company will engage in a variety of societal topics.
The Social Topics Committee is made up of Stakeholders representing Departments across Southwest including Communications & Outreach, Diversity & Inclusion, Investor Relations, Marketing, Governmental Affairs, General Counsel, and the People Department. They also consult with other departments as needed depending on the topic.
In order to approach each topic equitably, the Committee has guidelines for activation as well as guiding principles. The Committee is expected to approach all topics with speed, courage, and consistency. They use a consistent discussion framework to evaluate how to best align our actions with our Company’s values. This framework allows each topic to be thoughtfully approached by evaluating categories including impact to our business, Employees, Customers, brand, reputation, and relationships, to name a few.
The purpose of this Committee is not for Southwest to be engaged in every social topic that arises. It is simply to be strategically thoughtful, prepared, intentional, timely, and strive to consistently apply our Purpose and values to each situation.
For example, in 2018, the Committee reviewed the proposed termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We made our stance known by joining dozens of major corporations in sending a letter urging Congress to act immediately and pass a permanent bipartisan legislative solution to enable Dreamers who are currently living, working, and contributing to our communities to continue doing so.
Paramount to our Social Topics Committee is our corporate responsibility to respect human rights within our operations and throughout our value chains. We are guided by fundamental principles to not only comply with the law at all times, but also to avoid the appearance of impropriety in the actions of our Employees and our business partners. We have created and adhere to Company policies to support and respect the protection of human rights within our sphere of influence, which can be found here.
We provide Employee training on human rights, which includes training on human trafficking and notification to law enforcement authorities, and we are currently working on more robust human trafficking training for our Frontline Employees.
There is a growing focus on human trafficking at Southwest and in the airline industry. In early 2019, more than 600 of our Senior Leaders attended a presentation on human trafficking by Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris. A Southwest Community Outreach partner, Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and disrupts the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom.
Our responsibility to respect and protect human rights also encompasses our supply chain. We partner with our suppliers not only because of the impact they have on the products and equipment we use in the skies, on the ground, and in our offices, but also because of their impact on our triple bottom line of Performance, People, and Planet. We look to build sustainable relationships with our suppliers to help fulfill our operational needs, stimulate economic growth in the communities we serve, and satisfy the expectations of our Stakeholders. We expect that all suppliers comply with applicable laws, including those regarding child or forced labor.
There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach that works for every company or every issue, so it’s important that each topic is evaluated individually. We want to do what’s right for Southwest. We feel it’s important to stay true to who we are as a Company and always keep our Employees, Customers, and Shareholders top of mind.