At United, our shared purpose is to connect people and unite the world. That is why we strive to ensure our United family is as diverse as the customers and communities we serve – both in California and around the world – representing every background and belief origin and orientation, color and creed. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I) is more than a core value for United; that fosters an environment in which people from all walks of life can thrive, collaborate and innovate.
“As a native Californian, I’m proud to oversee our efforts in Los Angeles and San Francisco,” said Janet Lamkin, United’s new President of California. “United cares deeply about issues that are important to this state, including developing a diverse workforce – not only to enrich the United family, but to better serve our diverse customer community.”
RECRUITING DIVERSE TALENT AT UNITED IS JUST THE START
At United, we are dedicated to creating an inclusive work environment, characterized by dignity and respect, that empowers every employee to better serve our customers and contribute to our success.
Instead of merely checking the D&I box, we expect decision-makers to lead with an inclusive mindset. Our goal is for leaders to create a culture in which acceptance and appreciation of everyone is the norm, and each employee is comfortable bringing their full selves to work.
“We have a long-term commitment to diversity that is purposefully built into our operations. By hiring, retaining and promoting diverse talent, we cultivate respect and embrace differences – from senior leadership to frontline staff,” said Greg Jones, Chief Diversity Officer. “Our approach treats diversity and inclusion as a core leadership competency.”
To help actively implement a D&I mindset among leadership, United launched a leadership session, “Leading in an Inclusive Culture,” in 2015. It is a day-long interactive program designed to explore how diversity and inclusive behaviors and awareness of unconscious bias can impact business results, teamwork and innovation. As a company that connects people, ensuring our leadership reflects our customers’ diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences and values is paramount.
EMPLOYEE RESOURCE GROUPS ENRICH OUR CULTURE
To advance our D&I goals and support, engage and develop a more inclusive community, United proudly sponsors several employee-run Business Resource Groups (BRGs).
Across the U.S. and internationally, United currently has five BRGs: LGBTA (EQUAL), Multi-Cultural (UNITE), Veterans (United for Veterans), Women’s (uIMPACT) and Next Generation (Gen Trend). Each BRG has launched chapters to engage our frontline. Our BRGs, led by employee volunteers, nurture United’s unique talent, enrich our culture and connect us to local communities. Not only are these groups designed to increase awareness and understanding of cultural issues, they are structured to provide leadership roles and networking opportunities to help attract, retain and develop diverse leaders. The process to serve in a leadership position in these groups is rigorous and involves interviewing with HR, D&I leadership and the executive sponsor. These individuals are exposed to unique developmental opportunities and advance through their roles with a stronger sense of values that represent United’s community.
Through uIMPACT, United continues its push to advance gender equality. The group includes female employees from 81 cities across the globe, including Los Angeles. Notably, this BRG also expanded United’s Girls in Aviation Day events, in conjunction with Women in Aviation International, which gave us an opportunity to encourage young women to pursue careers in aviation and share the wide array of roles available at United.
Our women’s initiatives earned United the distinction of being named among Diversity- Inc’s Top 9 Companies for Executive Women – all organizations who embody and promote strong representation of women in senior leadership.
Of course, United’s focus on D&I extends to our customers as well. We recently made key improvements to assist our disabled customers. This included making self service airport kiosks more accessible to customers with sensory or mobility impairments and adding a new main menu category on our seatback entertainment, labeled “Accessible Entertainment,” to make it easier for customers with hearing and vision challenges to find accessible entertainment options. These efforts, combined with our focus on fostering an inclusive and accessible workplace contributed to United’s perfect 100 percent score on the Disability Equality Index (DEI), for the second consecutive year. That perfect score also earned United recognition as one of the 2018 DEI Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion.
THROUGH EVENTS WE ARE RAISING GREATER AWARENESS
Throughout the year, United hosts events, festivals and celebrations to encourage personal and professional development among our diverse community. These events provide education and training opportunities to all our employees, raising awareness of D&I issues and helping drive cultural change. We believe that knowing how to interact with people from all walks of life is essential when engaging with colleagues, customers, family and friends.
Last year, we sponsored 175 D&I awareness events at 62 locations, involving more than 22,000 employees.
We most recently celebrated LGBT Pride Month, where we continued our tradition of walking in Pride parades, increasing our participation to eight cities this year, including our first international parades in Mexico City and London. For eight years, United has scored a perfect 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for our ongoing commitment to the LGBT community. The perfect score also earned United a spot on the organization’s 2018 list of Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality.
In 2018 the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the business voice of the LBGT community, and the National Business Inclusion Consortium named United among the Best-of-the-Best corporations for inclusion in America. This highly competitive designation is awarded to companies that demonstrate their commitment to America’s diverse communities.
Later this summer, we’ll proudly partner with the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) to fully fund Aviation Career Education (ACE) camps in Newark and Los Angeles. During a day-long “United Day” at LAX, middle and high school STEM students will have the opportunity to learn about aerospace and aviation – as well as possible careers as a pilot, mechanic, air traffic controller or engineer – firsthand from OBAP volunteers.
WE ASPIRE TO ALWAYS GROW AND BE BETTER
United is fully committed to integrating D&I into all areas of our business, and we are honored by the recognition we have received from expert organizations. We aspire to constantly improve by uniting people and fostering deeper connections among our employees and in every community we serve.
B.J. Youngerman is Director, California Strategic Initiatives at United Airlines, California’s global airline. United has served California for more than 90 years and operates hubs at Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport. For more information, visit united.com.