The airline’s crew, pilots and ground team can now choose which of the Vivienne Westwood-designed uniforms best “expresses how they identify or present themselves”.
Optional pronoun badges have also been made available to teams, and those travelling on Virgin can also ask for their preferred badge at the check-in desk or in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. This will enable people to be addressed by their preferred pronouns throughout the journey.
Virgin has also updated its ticketing systems to allow for passport holders with gender neutral markers to select ‘U’ or ‘X’ gender codes on their booking, as well as the gender-neutral title ‘Mx’.
At the moment, only citizens from a few countries including the US, India and Pakistan are able to hold these passports. Virgin says that it is implementing a longer-term plan to modify communication preferences for those that do not have these passports to “ensure customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns across all touchpoints”.
Additionally, the airline is carrying out mandatory inclusivity training for staff at all levels across both Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Atlantic Holidays, as well as training for tourism partners and hotels within the destinations they fly to.
This news comes after Virgin removed the ban on visible tattoos for crew members and front-line employees. In 2019, the airline also made the wearing of make-up optional.
Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, commented on the updates:
“At Virgin Atlantic, 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.”
Jaime Forsstroem, cabin crew at Virgin Atlantic, added:
“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.”
To mark the launch, Michelle Visage teamed up with Virgin Atlantic to showcase the new policy in a fashion shoot and video.
The update comes as recent research, conducted by 3Gem on behalf of the airline, found that allowing staff to embrace their individuality at work boosts happiness (65 per cent), increases mental wellbeing (49 per cent), creates a more positive workplace culture (36 per cent) and provides a better experience for customers (24 per cent).
Employees also reported feeling more accepted and comfortable when able to be their true selves at work (26 per cent), and felt an increased sense of loyalty to their employer (21 per cent).
The airline’s initiatives also include an update of its existing trans inclusion policies, which already allows time off for medical treatments related to gender transition, personal choice of changing and shower facilities that align with the gender a person identifies as and the co-creation of a personalised transitioning plan.
by Hannah Brandler