Throughout February, across the United States, we celebrate Black History Month, to honor the contributions of Black people to our nation’s history and culture. For us at United, honoring Black voices and experiences extends far beyond the next 28 days. In fact, honoring and celebrating Black history is ingrained in the fabric of our organization, allowing us to fulfill our purpose of “Connecting People. Uniting the World.”
As a Black woman and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, I pursue that shared purpose by helping to create more spaces onboard our aircraft and in our workplaces where all our customers and team members feel welcome and comfortable.
It wasn’t that long ago that segregation negatively impacted Black Americans’ job opportunities and travel experiences, and some barriers and biases from that time persist even today. I’m proud to say that we at United are taking action to build equitable access to aviation careers and a culture of greater inclusion and belonging that reflects the full diversity of the communities we serve.
Over the past year, we’ve taken many steps to create sustainable progress for our business and our people, in hopes of becoming the most inclusive airline in the history of aviation. One of the biggest accomplishments in our company’s history was the launch of the United Aviate Academy, where we will train 5,000 new pilots by 2030, with a goal that at least half of the group will consist of women or people of color—and this is only the beginning.
Our commitment extends to enhancing the customer and employee experience and using our voice and buying power to make a difference in the communities where we live, work, and fly. For example, to best serve you, we launched our internal Cultural Advisory Board, which is providing input on culturally relevant aspects of the customer journey, such as onboard meals. This includes creating locally inspired meals on our outbound Johannesburg, South Africa, and Accra, Ghana, routes, giving our customers a truly unique travel experience before they even reach their final destination.
We also introduced our internal Black Business Resource Group, BEACON (Black Excellence Amplified Continuously in Our Network). Since its inception, the group has led the coordination of an all-Black serviced flight in observance of the Juneteenth holiday; traveled to Accra to deliver essential goods to children at a school and orphanage; and hosted several events to amplify Black voices, celebrate the value of Black employees, create allyship, and promote professional development.
We recognize that we can meet our business’s needs while uplifting Black and other minority communities by increasing our spend with diverse businesses. So we have set a goal and already made progress toward joining the Billion Dollar Roundtable, a group of corporations recognized for spending at least $1 billion annually with companies owned by women and minorities by 2025.
Black History Month provides us an opportunity to examine the past in order to help direct us toward a more equitable future. In this month’s issue of Hemispheres, you will find remarkable stories of Black and African American people who have changed aviation history for the better—forging new paths for future generations and demonstrating that anything is possible.
As always, thank you for choosing to fly with United.