Virgin Atlantic’s inclusivity reforms lead to 100 per-cent increase in applications from candidates
For years the airline industry maintained strict regulations on the personal appearance of staff. However, recently many airlines have been updating their dress codes. Some examples of this include permitting male employees to wear makeup, relaxing footwear requirements, and giving all employees the option to wear trousers.
One airline making significant changes to their dress code is Virgin Atlantic. In recent months, the airline giant has strived to create a more welcoming environment for all – from employees to passengers.
The airline updated its gender identity policy in September, allowing employees to choose which uniform best represents them, regardless of gender, gender identity, or gender expression. Complimenting this, Virgin Atlantic began to provide optional pronoun badges for employees and passengers. The airline also gave their employees agency over whether to wear makeup, flat shoes, and trousers. Furthermore, they became the first British carrier to lift restrictions on visible tattoos for crew members.
Interestingly, CEO Shai Weiss told the Telegraph, their efforts to reform the traditional, aesthetics-focused sector has seen a 100 per-cent rise in job candidates. The airline has specifically connected this doubling of job applications to the changes Virgin Atlantic made to their dress code. Specifically, Shai Weiss attributed this to dropping requirements for staff to wear “gendered uniform options.”
Not stopping at dress codes, the airline has updated its ticketing system enabling customers holding a passport with gender neutral gender markers now able to select U or X gender codes on their booking and opt for the gender-neutral title, Mx. Currently, this is only available to citizens from a few countries including the US, India, and Pakistan. The airline is, however, working towards a more extensive solution allowing passengers to be addressed by their preferred pronouns whenever they interact with the airline.
As the industry shoulders a staffing crisis and young people do not turn to aviation jobs in the same numbers as before the pandemic, companies must attract potential employees in new and innovative ways. The measures taken by Virgin Atlantic have already led to a tangible increase in candidate applications. It will be interesting to see if more airlines will adopt these substantial reforms.
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Article by Jess Brownlow