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    Diversity and Inclusion: A Way of Life at American Airlines


    American recognizes that being a global airline means we are in the business of connecting people and cultures from around the world. The company will only be successful if the experience it delivers, and the environment created, is welcoming and respectful of everyone. American also recognizes the relationship among its customers, employees, business partners and suppliers, and the communities it serves. They are all connected, and diversity and inclusion must be evident across these groups for all of them to thrive. As a company that bears the name “American,” much is expected of us, and we hold ourselves to a high standard. From hiring the industry’s first African-American flight attendant in 1963, to the first female pilot in 1973, to the creation of our supplier diversity program in the 1980s and our multicultural marketing teams in the 1990s, American has a long history of leadership in diversity and inclusion. American knows promoting diversity and inclusion is a journey, and the company is committed to making further progress in weaving it into the very fabric of the company so it is evident every day.

    At American Airlines, diversity means acknowledging different perspectives, ideas and various cultures and backgrounds. It means promoting inclusion, creating an environment where all differences are valued, and where employees can develop to their full potential. At American, diversity means creating a good workplace and fostering good corporate citizenship in the community.

    American Airlines is proud of its tradition of diversity, the heritage it bespeaks, and the future opportunities it represents. At American Airlines, diversity is a way of life and an everyday part of doing business.

    Employee Diversity

    American believes the company is strengthened through the diversity of its people. American understands that each employee is unique, and the company strives to provide an environment that encourages and values individual experiences, perspectives and ideas. It strives to be a business where employees can respect and value each other regardless of race, gender, age, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. American has been recognized for exercising the cultural differences among its employees in a way that advances the airline’s business priorities while also developing employees’ business and leadership skills. Consistently recognized as a leader in its employee policies for inclusiveness and fairness, American’s policies have helped the company attract and retain high performing, creative employees.

    • Today American Airlines has several officers who are African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American and female, and the number of women officers is among the top in the industry; the female representation among senior management at American has increased to 27 percent in 2011 from 21 percent in 1996 and minority representation is up to 26 percent in 2011 from 10 percent in 1996
    • Approximately 39 percent of American’s U.S.-based employees are female and 32 percent are ethnic minorities
    • American has the distinction of being the first major airline to hire a female pilot (1973) and the first to have a female captain (1986)
    • For more than a decade, American Airlines has been a pioneer in implementing fair-minded policies and practices for its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender customers and employees. The company has consistently earned a 100 percent score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, and included employee health benefit enhancements for gender reassignment procedures, as well as ensured that same-sex domestic partners were included under Family and Medical Leaves of Absence in 2011. The first major airline to implement same-sex domestic partner benefits (2000), American also offers equal health, pension and travel benefits to same-sex partners of gay and lesbian employees. American was the first major airline to implement both sexual orientation (1993) and gender identity (2001) in its workplace nondiscrimination policies, and the first major airline to have a recognized GLBT employee resource group – GLEAM.
    • In 1964, American Airlines Captain Dave Harris became the first African-American pilot to fly for a major commercial airline. That same year, American also hired Joan Dorsey, American’s first African-American flight attendant. In 2008, American honored Captain Harris and Ms. Dorsey at a special ceremony to celebrate their places in aviation and company history.
    • American is one of the few corporations to take the initiative to form a Board of Directors Diversity Committee, which provides oversight of American Airlines and American Eagle diversity initiatives. AMR CEO Gerard Arpey and several members of the board participate in quarterly diversity reviews.

    Employee Resource Groups

    American currently has 16 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). As a major international airline, American’s ERGs play a particularly important role because they promote a positive, productive work environment while creating avenues for employees to contribute their ideas to the business − helping American develop products and services for its global customer base. In addition, the ERGs play a vital role in connecting American to the communities it serves.

    These groups have not only helped American better understand and work with its own employees, they’ve also helped American tailor its products and services to better meet customers’ needs and desires:

    • The Indian and Asian/Pacific Islander ERGs provided cultural guidance and helped with menu planning and promotional activities in support of American’s Delhi, Shanghai, and Beijing service introductions.
    • The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Buyer’s Guide lists American, in part because of the efforts of the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender ERG in assisting Human Resources with its responses to the HRC’s survey. American's GLEAM ERG develop a posted a video for the "It Gets Better Campaign" on YouTube to help youth avoid suicide.
    • The African-American ERG has assisted American with its long-time support of the United Negro College Fund, as well as arranged and hosted Black History Month celebrations.
    • The Hispanic/Latin ERG is very active in the community and in advising the company in how it can make airports, such as Miami, more welcoming to Spanish-speaking people.

    American’s 16 ERGs include: 40+ ERG; African-American ERG (AAERG); Asian/Pacific Islanders ERG (APIERG); Caribbean ERG (CRBERG); Christian ERG (CERG); Abilities ERG; Generation Now ERG (GNERG); Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Employees (GLEAM); Hispanic/Latin ERG (HLERG); Indian ERG (IERG); Jewish ERG (JERG); Muslim ERG (MERG); Native American ERG (NAERG); Parents AAt Work ERG (PAAW ERG); Veteran Military ERG (VMERG); and Women in AAviation (WIAA).

    The ERGs are linked by the Diversity Advisory Council, which meets regularly and promotes the company’s belief in the effectiveness of working together. Council activities and accomplishments have included:

    • Collaboration with oneworld partners to provide cultural expertise to joint business alliances
    • Translations and media talent for American’s communications, marketing and advertising departments
    • Ongoing support of “Operation Mobility,” which offers service improvements for customers with disabilities
    • Assistance as a focus group to help develop messages tailored to specific employee and customer groups
    • Supported marketing efforts for American's products and services

    In addition, the Council has provided cultural perspectives for updates to American’s uniform and appearance standards, and offered presentations to flight attendant groups regarding faith-based traditions.

    Community Involvement

    The people of American Airlines have long understood that serving a community means more than just flying there − it means contributing to a range of nonprofit organizations and community events, and encouraging and facilitating employee volunteerism and donations. From national partnerships to local initiatives, American Airlines strives to improve the quality of life for its customers, its employees, its families, its shareholders and the communities where they live and work.

    • American and American Eagle flew 30 missions into Haiti carrying over 400,000 pounds of relief supplies in addition to transporting medical and relief personnel after the January 2010 earthquake. American was the last airline to depart from Haiti after the earthquake and the first airline to return.
    • In 2010, direct and indirect support for Susan G. Komen For The Cure® was estimated to be more than $14.4 million and involved more than 20,000 employee donors and volunteers.
    • Employees donated more than $1 million to charitable organizations through our American Giving Charitable Fund.
    • In 2010, 1,600 employees recorded 38,000 hours of volunteer service to 207 organizations through 3,000 unique individual and team projects.
    • American Airlines flight attendants and Admirals Club personnel helped raise $1.6 million from passengers under the UNICEF Change for Good program, also proudly supported by Airline Ambassadors International. To date, this program has raised over $6 million for programs aimed at reducing child mortality of preventable diseases.
    • American Advocates, launched in 2004, has 10,000 volunteers for various initiatives; while there has been less structure in employee volunteer programs in the past, employees and departments have consistently volunteered for community events such as Something mAAgic and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure . Employees have also contributed generously to tsunami, Hurricane Katrina relief, and Haiti relief efforts.
    • Airline Ambassadors organizes relief flights to areas ravaged by natural disasters to distribute food, medicine, school supplies, wheelchairs, clothing and toys to orphanages and clinics, especially in Latin America
    • American is a long-term supporter of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and its initiatives to provide students in the African-American community with opportunities they might not have under other circumstances
    • American Airlines served as host to actor/entertainer Steve Harvey and more than 100 young men from Dallas and across the country in 2010 and 2011 during the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend. American Airlines volunteers, including African-American pilots and aircraft mechanics, were on hand to meet and mentor the teens, who learned what it takes to become a pilot or an aircraft mechanic.

    Supplier Diversity

    Established in 1989, the mission of American’s Diversified Supplier Program is to afford qualified minority, women-owned and small businesses the opportunity to participate as potential suppliers of products and services to the airline. Administered from the Corporate Purchasing Department, the program is represented throughout the company by supplier diversity advocates, who are responsible for supporting supplier diversity within their respective departments on a day-to-day basis. Each department establishes annual goals for its supplier diversity spending, and progress is measured to ensure that each department is on track to realize its supplier diversity objective.

    Success depends on the supplier’s ability to be price-competitive in the marketplace, to provide a quality product and/or service, and to deliver that product or service in a timely manner. American attempts to match potential suppliers with customers within the American Airlines organization, to establish a line of communication between the supplier and the customer.

    • American Airlines is focused on fostering growth with minority, women-owned, LGBT and diverse suppliers. Since the Supplier Diversity program was established, more than $4 billion has been spent with diverse suppliers.
    • The Diversified Supplier Program focuses on ethnic minority (African-American, Hispanic, Native American and Asian Pacific) and women-owned businesses
    • American was the first airline to invite certified LGBT suppliers to participate in its supplier diversity program

    Multicultural Marketing

    The ability to communicate and serve customers with differing cultural backgrounds, experiences, languages and expectations in a respectful way that resonates with them has become more important than ever. American has used a combination of third-party advisors, external advisory councils, ERGs and relationships with key advocacy organizations to gain insights into how to provide the best travel experience possible for all customers.

    Because service is the focus of its multicultural marketing efforts, American recognizes that it must go beyond marketing and sales to delivering a positive travel experience. Only then will the airline be successful in earning customer loyalty and retaining the brand equity built over its 80-year history. Some examples of how American does this are highlighted below.


    Deliver Product








    Brand Extension

    • Diverse Segment Marketing Teams

    • Worldwide network and Admirals Clubs


    • Frequent flyer program

    • Sponsorships

    • In-language marketing, promotions and communication

    • Multi-language personnel in reservations, at the airport, onboard the aircraft, and in the Admirals Clubs


    • AA.com/rainbow newsletters

    • ERG Community involvement

    • International and in-language web presence

    • In-language Airport signage


    • AA.com/rainbow

    • Employee volunteerism and board service


    • In-language inflight entertainment


    • BlackAtlas.com

    • In-kind donations




    • Aprendi.com

    • Diverse social media communities




    • Pillar organization support; ENDA Support; Recognition and Awards

    • Diverse Events

    • In 2008, American introduced a robust diversity and inclusion section on AA.com, the first of its kind in the airline industry. The link promotes American’s diversity efforts in supplier diversity, employees, diversity leadership, awards and recognition, corporate citizenship and ongoing marketing initiatives. American also has products tailored for small businesses, and AA.com Web pages specifically focused on women as well as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) audience.
    • American focuses on diverse customer groups, such as the African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and LGBT communities. The company supports and partners with many community organizations, such as the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Corporate Counsel Women of Color. In the Hispanic community, American supports the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Puerto Rican Day Parade. In the LGBT community, the company supports organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Lambda Legal, and Out & Equal. American Airlines uses specialized and diverse advertising, marketing, and public relations agencies to develop insightful programs that best serve its needs.
    • American uses the Web to generate revenue and loyalty among its diverse customers as well as to educate and inform them of travel-related or company-related information. AAVacations.com has a section, www.AA.com/rainbow, aimed at serving American’s loyal LGBT customers who are eager to explore the vacation destinations on this popular website. American was the first U.S. airline to launch a vacation package site for LGBT travelers.
    • American Airlines leads the industry in African-American advertising and is the only airline with a social networking travel site dedicated to Black travelers, BlackAtlas.com.
    • In 2009, American established the Earl G. Graves Leadership Award, which recognizes employees who have not only championed diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but also within their communities. The award’s purpose is to further promote a culture of diversity and inclusion at American and to honor Earl G. Graves, Sr., founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, who pioneered many of American’s diversity initiatives.


    Many organizations and publications have recognized American’s diversity efforts. The company leads the airline industry in its commitment to diversity initiatives and has been recognized with numerous awards, among them:

    • American Airlines received a 100 percent Corporate Equality Index rating from HRC, marking its ninth consecutive year of achieving a perfect score since the Index’ inception in 2002.
    • 2011 Diversity Leader Award – This award is given to organizations that share their stories with readers on a regular basis and offer profiles of their thought leaders. American Airlines is recognized as an organization that demonstrates its continued commitment toward diverse culture through its ongoing communications with Profiles in Diversity Journal.
    • For the third consecutive year, American was named a recipient of the Diversity Council Honors Award from the Association of Diversity Councils. In 2011, American was the sole airline to be listed as having one of the nation’s top 25 diversity councils.
    • Black Enterprise recognized Lauri Curtis, American Airlines Vice President of Diversity, Leadership and Engagement on their 2011 list of Top Leaders in Diversity.
    • American Airlines placed at number 36 out of all the companies in the U.S. on the 18th Annual "Top 50 Employers" in Equal Opportunity Magazine.
    • American Airlines has been recognized as one of the Top Companies for Diverse Managers and Women to Work. American Airlines ranked number 28 out of theBest 50 Out Front Companies.
    • The American Airlines Legal Department received the inaugural Diversity Award of Excellence from the Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC) for 2011.
    • In 2010, American was named Corporation of the Year by the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council (D/FW MSDC), which champions supplier diversity.
    • Hispanic Business magazine named American one of the Top 60 Companies for Hispanics in 2010. American ranked 28 – 10 points higher than in 2009.
    • The National Black Data Processing Associates and Workplace Diversity.com announced the 2010 Best Companies for Blacks in Technology Award, which included American Airlines.
    • American was named as one of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies in 2010.

    For more information, please visit www.aa.com/diversity, www.aa.com and select Corporate Responsibility under the About Us section, then Employees, or contact Media Relations: mediarelations@aa.com, 817-967-1577.

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