Virgin Atlantic is giving its crew the choice of what uniform they wear to work “no matter their gender, gender identity or gender expression”. The carrier said it wants to “champion the individuality” of its workers by enabling them to wear clothing, designed by British designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, that “expresses how they identify or present themselves” in a major overhaul of its gender identity policy.
Female Virgin Atlantic employees were previously required to wear a red uniform, while males wore burgundy.
The company said the change makes it “the most inclusive airline in the skies”.
Cabin crew member Jaime Forsstroem said: “The updated gender identity policy is so important to me. As a non-binary person, it allows me to be myself at work and have the choice in what uniform I wear.”
The airline said its existing “trans inclusion policies” include allowing time off work for medical treatments related to gender transition, a choice of changing and shower facilities that “align with the gender a person identifies as”, and co-creation of a “personalised transitioning plan”.
The move by the Sir Richard Branson-owned airline is a UK-first for the aviation industry.
Virgin Atlantic is also introducing the option of including pronouns on workers’ name badges, and has updated its ticketing system to allow passport holders with gender neutral markers to use the title Mx and select gender codes U or X on their booking.
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The measures are part of the airline’s Be Yourself agenda.
Previous changes include dropping a requirement for female cabin crew to wear make-up, and scrapping a ban on visible tattoos for all cabin crew.
The airline’s chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen said: “At Virgin Atlantic, we believe that everyone can take on the world, no matter who they are.
“That’s why it’s so important that we enable our people to embrace their individuality and be their true selves at work.
“It is for that reason that we want to allow our people to wear the uniform that best suits them and how they identify and ensure our customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns.”
Reacting to the news about the uniforms, Michelle Visage, a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race Allstars, said: “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.”
It comes after British Airways dropped “ladies and gentlemen” from its on board announcements to celebrate the “diversity and inclusion” of its customers.