travel

Michelle Visage helps Virgin Atlantic launch new gender identity policy

Virgin Atlantic will now allow crew to wear the uniform that expresses their true identity

2022-09-28

Words: Markus Bidaux; pictures: supplied

Michelle Visage is standing proud with Virgin Atlantic’s crew, pilots and ground staff who can now wear the Vivienne Westwood designed uniform that best reflects their gender identity.

The brand’s bosses decided to change its gender identity policy after reviewing research which found that allowing staff to embrace their individuality at work increases mental wellbeing by 49%, feelings of happiness by 65%, and creates a better experience for staff and customers by 24%.

 

So henceforth, Virgin Atlantic’s staff will be permitted to wear the uniform of their choosing regardless of their gender, gender identity or gender expression. And staff will be able to wear the newly introduced optional pronoun badges.

On being part of the campaign Michelle Visage commented: “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.

 

"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.”

The airline’s initiatives have also updated its existing trans inclusion policies, which already allows time off for medical treatments related to gender transition, personal choice of changing & shower facilities that align with the gender a person identifies as and co-creation of a personalised transitioning plan. 

And for us passengers, its ticketing systems will now allow for those of us who hold passports with gender neutral gender markers to select ‘U’ or ‘X’ gender codes on our booking as well as the gender-neutral title, ‘Mx’. Currently citizens from a small number of countries including the USA, India and Pakistan, are able to hold these passports and travellers must travel on the codes that match their passport.

As most of us don’t have access to passports with gender neutral gender markers, Virgin Atlantic is implementing a longer-term plan to amend communication preferences to ensure customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns across all touchpoints.

Another positive change for passengers is the airline’s mandatory inclusivity training will be rolled out for its people at all levels across Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Atlantic Holidays as well as a series of inclusivity learning initiatives for tourism partners and hotels within destinations such as the Caribbean to ensure all their customers feel welcome despite barriers to LGBTQ+ equality.  

These latest addition to Virgin Atlantic’s “Be Yourself” agenda follows a decision in 2019 to offer cabin crew the choice whether to wear make-up as well as the option to wear trousers and flat shoes. More recently the airline lifted restrictions around allowing visible tattoos for crew members and its front-line people.