United’s business resource group for Black employees, BEACON (Black Excellence Amplified Continuously in Our Network), has grown substantially since it formed two years ago. Here, Helon Hammond, United’s Managing Director of Technical Operations and BEACON President, shares a few updates on the group’s expansion through its chapters and its plan for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Happy New Year from the entire United community! One of the highlights of January is the commemoration of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., held on the third Monday of the month. Some of our U.S.-based team members observe the federal holiday with a day off, but, of course, the airline can’t shut down entirely. You may very well be reading this on a United flight on MLK day! Whether we’re working or not, the day is an opportunity to pay homage to Dr. King, who is known for his nonviolent activism against racial discrimination and for civil rights generally. He was also a huge proponent of community service.
If you’re wondering, What can an airline do to honor Dr. King?, it’s a good question, and I’d like to share some of the ways that we honor his legacy this month and beyond. BEACON, in partnership with United’s Global Community Engagement team, is leading a weekend of service. Employees across United’s network, including its hub cities (Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark/New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.,) are volunteering and participating in community service opportunities.
On MLK Day, United is also sponsoring parades in Houston and Denver, where we have such a strong presence both in the number of team members and the amount of people we have the privilege to fly daily. Employees are displaying their pride with MLK/United-branded T-shirts, along with branded items and informational materials. As we prepare for significant growth over the next five years, we are supporting the company’s hiring efforts by helping to build a strong talent pipeline that reflects our diverse, global customer base and the communities we serve.
BEACON’s purpose is to educate, empower, and elevate. With BEACON chapters at all of our hubs, employee enthusiasm and engagement are as high as I’ve seen them in my 30 years at the company. I couldn’t be prouder to be the first president of United’s first business resource group for Black employees because of the many people who’ve been positively impacted by the work we’ve done. Through deliberate action and being a representative force in our communities, we’re showcasing United’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, while honoring Dr. King’s legacy.