Virgin Atlantic employees now have the option to choose which of the airline’s uniforms best represents them — no matter their gender, gender identity or gender expression.
The Richard Branson-founded airline announced Wednesday an update to its gender identity policy. The company is removing the requirement for its pilots, crew and ground team to wear gendered uniform options.
Instead, they now can decide which of the airline’s Vivienne Westwood-designed uniforms accurately expresses how they identify or present themselves.
The policy follows previous changes that let crew members show their tattoos and made the use of makeup optional.
The announcement comes as research found that allowing staff to embrace their individuality at work increased mental well-being by nearly 50% and feelings of happiness by 65%.
“The updated gender identity policy is so important to me,” said Jamie Forsstroem, a Virgin Atlantic cabin crew said. “As a nonbinary person, it allows me to be myself at work and have the choice in what uniform I wear.”
According to the airline, Wednesday’s announcement came as part of an “ongoing drive to champion the individuality of its people and customers.”
The effort also includes the rollout of optional pronoun badges for all employees and people traveling with the airline.
“This move enables everyone to clearly communicate and be addressed by their pronouns. The badges will be available to teams and customers from today and customers simply need to ask for their preferred badge at the check-in desk or in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse,” the company said in a news release.
Airlines and even private jet charter services like Jettly are also making it easier for nonbinary or gender-nonconforming travelers to use their gender markers and titles.
It has also already updated its ticketing systems to allow for those who hold passports with gender-neutral gender markers to select ‘U’ or ‘X’ gender codes on their booking as well as the gender-neutral title, ‘Mx’. However, when passports don’t allow for a person’s gender marker, the British airline is implementing a longer-term plan “to amend communication preferences to ensure customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns across all touchpoints.”
In addition to these changes, the company has also announced mandatory inclusivity training for staff, as well as tourism and hotel partners.
“At Virgin Atlantic, we believe that everyone can take on the world, no matter who they are,” Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic COO said. “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.”
Television personality Michelle Visage was part of the team showcasing the policy in a fashion shot and television spot released Wednesday.
“As the mother of a nonbinary 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,” the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” co-host said.
“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,” she added.
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