Virgin Atlantic said on Wednesday that it will allow its employees to pick which of its stylish Vivienne Westwood-designed uniforms best represents them regardless of their gender, gender identity, or gender expression. The dramatic change is being implemented with immediate effect.
Instead of having ‘male’ and ‘female’ uniform kits, Virgin Atlantic said the uniforms will not be gendered and will simply be known as the ‘burgundy’ and ‘red’ uniforms.
Although Virgin Atlantic is now giving employees the freedom to pick the uniform kit that best represents them, a spokesperson told us that for the purposes of easy identification, crew members will not be allowed to mix and match uniform items from both kits.
The airline also confirmed that high-heels could not be worn with the burgundy uniform, but facial hair can be worn by staffers who choose the red uniform.
The announcement was made on Wednesday with the help of the singer and Rupaul’s Drag Race star Michelle Visage.
“As the mother of a non-binary child and as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, these efforts by Virgin Atlantic to further inclusivity for its people are extremely important and personal to me,” Visage commented.
“People feel empowered when they are wearing what best represents them, and this gender identity policy allows people to embrace who they are and bring their full selves to work.”
A slew of other updates to Virgin Atlantic’s gender identity policy was also announced on Wednesday, including an update to the airline’s ticketing system that will accurately record gender-neutral identifiers such as ‘U’ or ‘X’ for these passport holders.
Passengers will also be able to choose the gender-neutral title ‘Mx’ when booking a flight, and Virgin Atlantic will make pronoun pins available to both employees and passengers.
In addition, staffers will be required to complete mandatory inclusivity training and Virgin Holidays plans to roll out a series of inclusivity learning initiatives to tourism partners and hotels within destinations such as the Caribbean.
Virgin Atlantic’s uniform policy has come a long in the last few years with female cabin crew traditionally being made to wear a full face of makeup, a skirt and high heels. The airline dropped those rules in 2019, and in recent months, the carrier has allowed male employees to wear makeup and ditched a ban on visible tattoos.
“At Virgin Atlantic, we believe that everyone can take on the world, no matter who they are,” commented Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer. “That’s why it’s so important that we enable our people to embrace their individuality and be their true selves at work”.
Virgin Atlantic cited research that found allowing employees to express their true selves at work could significantly boost staff happiness and mental wellbeing.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.