As the world has reacted to the most recent racist attacks across our country and protests have continued in cities large and small, we’ve been listening to and learning from our employees, reflecting – and taking a hard look at the work we must do to advance racial equity and justice at Alaska Airlines and in our communities. We have taken time on this, because it is vital that our actions drive truly systemic change. We know we will continue to learn as we build our plans to advance equity. And we must do this together with our employees, guests and communities.
Some of the work so far has happened in listening sessions across the company, where courageous employees have shared what it’s like being the only Black employee in a workgroup, expressed frustration that they don’t see enough people in leadership who look like them, and shared the hurt of micro-aggressions that aren’t acknowledged.
“The most important thing is that this becomes an ongoing conversation where we listen to understand, and then respond,” says Sarah Keimig, Seattle station supervisor and chair of ABEA, Air Group’s Black Employees Allies and Advocates group, which advocates for employee advancement, community involvement and business alignment. “We have to make it so that if you bring up race, the room doesn’t tighten up. You talk about it and then you can fix some things. And then you need to talk about it some more.”
These listening sessions are a small but vital step for employees to help company leaders shape a plan of action to advance racial equity and create lasting change.
“We must work together to ensure our country is a place where all people are treated equally and have equal access to opportunity. Black Lives Matter. They matter in our company, on board our aircraft and within our communities.” – CEO Brad Tilden, from an email to employees on May 31
We stand with our Black employees and guests.
We live our values – to do the right thing and be kind-hearted.
Racial equity is a human rights issue. Every person deserves to be treated
This is a journey. We will continue to learn and drive change.
Today, we start by stating our commitments, what we heard from employees, and some of our next steps in the work ahead to advance racial equity. As we move forward, we will share our actions and learnings along the way.
“Representation came out as, ‘I don’t see anyone who looks like me. Therefore, I have no one to speak to when difficult situations come up.’” – John-Antony Dubreuil, IT senior test manager and an ABEA leader
“If you look at the challenging conversations we’ve been having, much of it has fallen on Black employees to lead and engage. That’s a byproduct of a lack of representation. I’m glad that we as a company are committing to address this.” – Brandon Knight, senior project manager and an ABEA leader
We will increase the representation of Black employees throughout our company – including at the highest levels of leadership. This means revising our recruiting and hiring practices to do a better job of reducing bias and hiring diverse talent as our company grows again in the future. We will also provide mentorship, sponsorship and leadership development to retain and develop the diverse talent we currently have.
2. CREATE AN INCLUSIVE
AND ANTI-RACIST CULTURE
“Empathy, understanding and support is so important. The fear of backlash was a serious concern that came through in multiple listening sessions. Having leadership that leans in and pushes back against those who would rather maintain the status quo is so important and impactful.” – Dubreuil
We will cultivate an inclusive and anti-racist culture where we are always learning, seeking to understand, and where everyone is seen and respected. We have long held safety as our number one value. Our employees deserve to feel safe when they come to work, and guests should feel safe on board. This means racism has no place in our workplace or on our airplanes. We commit to keeping all our spaces safe for everyone. We will ensure this safety by creating a workplace where we all continue to learn, including through annual training requirements, policy enhancements that are clearly communicated, and measurement systems that drive accountability and progress.
“Yes, Black Lives Matter. If you believe this, then together we must say that how our Black employees feel when they’re at work matters, opportunities – including promotions – for our Black employees matter, Black children (and their schools) matter, true criminal justice matters, and this thinking applies to many other areas of our lives.” – Tilden, from an email to employees on Aug. 7
3. RACIAL JUSTICE LEADERSHIP
“As long as I’ve been at Alaska, we’ve supported the UNCF in Seattle [United Negro College Fund]. As I look to the future, that gives me hope. We don’t have it all right at Alaska now. But at our core, this is something that we believe in, something that we’ve been actively contributing towards and something that we’re committed to do more of in the future.” – Knight
While we focus on change within our company, we will proudly share our belief and commitment to racial justice and take actions to advance racial equity in the community beyond our operation. We will stand with those who are working to transcend politics to bring people together for a more equitable future. We will deepen our partnerships and support for Black organizations to advance racial justice and educational equity and evaluate ways to advance that through policy and civic engagement. We will use our voice, our travel, our actions, our grants and support to move our communities and our country forward.
“In our hearts, I think that every one of us recognizes the injustice and inequity that our Black employees and customers live with, and I think we all know that we have an obligation to do everything within our power to make things more fair and more just…. We are starting on a journey. It is not going to be an easy journey, and it’s not going to be a short journey. But it’s time for us to start.” – Tilden, from an email to employees on Aug. 7