American Airlines vows to train workers on racial bias following NAACP travel advisory
- American Airlines says it will implement racial-bias training, following allegations by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) of a pattern of discrimination against African-American passengers, Travel and Leisure reports. The NAACP issued a travel advisory for African-Americans, warning about possible mistreatment by the airline.
- The NAACP issued the advisory after Tamika Mallory, an African-American woman and one of the co-founders of the 2017 Women's March, was denied her assigned seat on and subsequently removed from one of the airline's flights to New York. The NAACP cited other incidents in which black passengers said they were mistreated on American Airlines flights.
- American Airlines CEO Doug Parker released a four-point plan for fighting racism, which, besides company-wide racial-bias training, includes carrying out diversity and inclusion evaluation, raising internal oversight and revising the discrimination claims process. The NAACP plans to uphold the travel advisory until it sees changes in the way the airline treats black passengers.
Companies should be commended for responding to discrimination charges with solutions. However, to be effective, unconscious bias training requires commitment and enforcement from an organization's senior executives, managers and supervisors.
That's because bias often occurs deep within organizations; unless there's an open and public commitment from the top, discriminatory practices will often fester among the rank and file. It's part of the reason HR has witnessed initiatives like that of PwC's CEO Tim Ryan, who encouraged Fortune 1000 company heads in June to sign onto his diversity pledge. Since then, 330 CEOs have done so.
Along with the type of initiatives Parker endorsed, companies must set, maintain and enforce a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination in the workplace.