Virgin Atlantic has updated its gender identity policy to allow cabin crew, pilots and ground staff to choose the uniform that best represents them – regardless of how they express their gender.
The airline said the move, which comes hot on the heels of a revised tattoo policy at the airline, “cements its position as the most inclusive airline” with the fluid approach to its red and burgundy uniforms, designed by Vivienne Westwood.
Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, said: “We believe that everyone can take on the world, no matter who they are.
“That’s why it’s so important that we enable our people to embrace their individuality and be their true selves at work. It is for that reason that we want to allow our people to wear the uniform that best suits them and how they identify and ensure our customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns.”
Uniforms and inclusion
Jaime Forsstroem, cabin crew at Virgin Atlantic said: “The updated gender identity policy is so important to me. As a non-binary person, it allows me to be myself at work and have the choice in what uniform I wear.”
Virgin Atlantic has also updated its ticketing systems to allow for those who hold passports which use U or X gender codes on their booking as well as the gender-neutral title Mx. Travellers from countries including the US, India and Pakistan are able to hold such passports.
Mandatory inclusivity training is being rolled out for all employees across Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Atlantic Holidays, as well as for staff at partner hotels in its holiday destinations.
Media personality Michelle Visage, who appears in a video and photoshoot promoting the new policy, said: “As the mother of a non-binary child, and as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, these efforts by Virgin Atlantic to further inclusivity for its people are extremely important and personal to me. People feel empowered when they are wearing what best represents them, and this gender identity policy allows people to embrace who they are and bring their full selves to work.”
Launched as part of its ‘Be Yourself’ agenda, Virgin Atlantic has already unveiled a series of inclusivity initiatives for its staff to ensure they feel comfortable in their roles. This latest additions follow a decision in 2019 to allow cabin crew to choose whether to wear make-up as well as the option to wear trousers and flat shoes. Earlier this year the airline lifted restrictions around allowing visible tattoos for crew members and other front-line staff.
Virgin Atlantic commissioned research among 2,000 UK adults this month which found that enabling employees to express their true selves at work boosts happiness (65% of respondents), increases mental wellbeing (49%), creates a more positive workplace culture (36%) and provides a better experience for customers (24%).
Despite these benefits, the airline found that a quarter of respondents have felt pressure to hide their true selves at work, with 13% feeling uncomfortable making requests that enable them to express who they really are.