Why we’re proud to celebrate pride

By Tammy Young, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of human resources

Over the last several years, conversations about race relations, educational and pay equity, marriage equality, income inequality and social justice have dominated the headlines.

These important themes have made their way from the airwaves to corporate boardrooms to dinner conversations and into our culture. Seattle musi­cians Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have attracted attention—both support and criticism—with their release of White Privilege II earlier this year. At the center of these topics is the concept of inclusion, whether all people “truly belong,” and if we’re each given an equal chance to succeed.

This month in particular, as we join our customers, our employees and our communities in celebrating Pride Month, it’s important for us to continue these conversations and remember why they started. We celebrate pride each year to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots – a tipping point in the gay liberation movement, and an event that set the course for the ongoing fight for LGBT rights here in the United States.

We’ve come a long way – I’m proud to live in a country that recognizes marriage for ALL couples. I’m also proud to work for a CEO who has been on the record time and again about his support for LGBT rights, from speaking out for marriage equality to urging the Boy Scouts to reverse its policy on gay scouts and scout leaders. But, there is still more work to be done. Even today, only 22 states protect against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and only 19 on the basis of gender identity.

As a company, we’ve worked hard to create a culture of inclusion for our employees and customers alike. This year we received – for the fifth year in a row – a perfect score of 100 percent on the 2016 Corporate Equality Index, a national report on LGBT workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. We’re a proud supporter of LGBT equality both in the workplace and in our communities.

This is why we’re committed to showing our pride this month, and every month. Beginning June 6, and throughout the summer pride season, we’re partnering with Uber to each donate $1 to the It Gets Better Project for every tweet, Facebook post or Instagram post tagged with #LoveMovesUs, up to a total of $28,000. We’re also participating in pride celebrations up and down the West Coast. Look for Alaska Airlines street teams at pride events in Anchorage, Alaska, Portland, Oregon, Honolulu, San Diego and Palm Springs, California.

In our home town of Seattle, we’ll be celebrating with our employees, customers and friends at events around the city throughout the month of June. Look for us at the Seattle Pride Parade, pride parties at Sun Liquor and the Baltic Room, GSBA events and Seattle Men’s Chorus performances.

We have a long history of supporting the LGBT community and regularly participate in events such as the Business Journals’ “Business of Pride,” celebrating business leaders who are also leaders in equality in San Francisco and Seattle, and HRC events here in Seattle.

To show our continued support we are encouraging the LGBT community to travel, not only to Seattle, but to pride events and gay-friendly destinations all over the country.

With that aim, we have put together a section of our site to highlight destinations that support marriage equality, pride celebrations, and other events of interest to the LGBT community. Learn more at alaskaair.com/gaytravel.

But we’re not stopping with pride. We’re committed to continuing the conversation about inclusion in the workplace, and we’ve started with our leaders.

Earlier this year, more than 1,000 leaders of our front-line and back-office workforce participated in an intensive session titled “Inclu­sive Leadership—Lead It, Own It, Drive It.” They participated in groups of 100 at a time. And, as I can personally attest, they were fully engaged throughout the seven-hour experience.

This was not an easy undertaking for those who participated. Through conversation, self-reflection and experiential learning, our leaders challenged their own, and each other’s, core beliefs and as­sumptions about race, gender, sexual orientation, social status and more.

We invested time exploring the concept of bias— specifically that we see and judge the world and others through our own unique lenses, and that our biases are shaped by personal histories, including where and how we grew up, and the advantages or disadvantages we’ve each faced.

“We need our leaders to be truly leading, owning and driving a culture in which every member of our team can speak up. … ”

Another focus of this session was a discussion on the importance of positive intent. As we advance on our inclusion journey to­gether, we may misstep or say the wrong thing. For some, that’s a scary thing and can keep them from even starting the conversation. It’s important that we grant each other some grace along the way. Macklemore put it perfectly in a recent NPR in­terview: “I’m stepping into the conversation, I’m learning, I’m trying to read, I’m trying to engage. I’m going to make mistakes along the way. …”

Why do we spend time on inclusion? Because we need our leaders to be truly leading, owning and driving a culture in which every member of our team can speak up, fully participate and succeed. And in turn, we need every employee engaging with you, our customers, in a way that you feel valued, too.

Learn more about Alaska’s commitment to an inclusive workplace in our most recent corporate sustainability report.

#FlyWithPride

8 Comments on “Why we’re proud to celebrate pride

  1. Thank you Alaska Airlines, I will definitely fly you more and recommend you highly. 😄

  2. Well Much Appreciation for this… I love Alaska Airlines ( how else could I have/ sustain a long distance relationship with a Soul Mate from Vancouver / San Francisco??) I love my Alaska Airlines Mastercard ( points and perks!)
    I’m also a Virgin America stockholder/ frequent flyer – with dear friends who work inflight- so I am actually thrilled that my two preferred airline experiences are merging.

    Thank for this… on a very personal note.. I am HIV positive yet Undetectable…. Leading Edge medicine and no possibility of transference to a partner… I live in Canada where Gay Marriage has long been accepted Federally and in British Columbia, which is Leading Edge Centre for Excellence in HIV medicine & Research ( even the Pope has approved our treatments.. for those in disadvantaged countries!) In the trials which might be best for me.. I had my unused ARV pills, sent over to those countries.

    There still so much STIGMA regarding HIV – being the AID’s of the 80’s. The words AIDS.. that human “branding” is a misleading social moniker in 2012.. and thus I incorporate my status into daily life and conversation as there is such a gap in social information… again Much Appreciation to Alaska AIrlines for helping bridge this gap and celebrating differences/ diversity and Embracing / Accepting who we all are Unconditionally. and thus I incorporate my status into daily life and conversation as there is such a gap in social information… again Much Appreciation to Alaska AIrlines for helping bridge this gap and celebrating differences/ diversity and Embracing / Accepting who we all are Unconditionally.

  3. Thank you Alaska Airlines for supporting not just LGBT but for all of the support you provide in communities up and down the West Coast and especially in Alaska. Here in Alaska, we see and feel the support that you provide to our city of Fairbanks. I am proud to book all of my air travel with Alaska Airlines no matter how far I am going in and around my great State or Outside. You are a huge company that has not forgotten their employees and the communities in which you serve! So thank you!!

  4. I am delighted to see the extent to which Alaska Airlines is involved in progressive community issues, including LGBT. I just wish the many other organisations were as progressive; after all, for better or worse, they are decision makers and influencers of public opinion. (Not expecting the NRA and other dinosaurs to come on board!) Congratulations!

  5. Ms. Young, thanks to you and Brad Tilden for making this public statement. You set an example for responsible corporate participation in our communities and your active leadership in clearly supporting the value of all of your employees is to be applauded. Thanks, too, for your efforts in paying more that lip service to environmental sustainability. Alaska Airlines is proof positive that companies can do well and do good at the same time.

  6. Thank you, Alaska Airlines, for being a corporate model of inclusiveness. I will look to Alaska Airlines FIRST when booking air travel.

  7. I’m relatively new to Alaska Airlines but have already started to look to you, along with Hawaiian Air for my Honolulu/West Coast flights. From now on I’ll be checking your available flights FIRST. Corporate responsibility is THAT important to me.

    Than-you, Ms Young, for a bold statement.

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