Last Friday, I went to a retirement party for a colleague, Annie, who was saying goodbye after 32 years with Southwest Airlines. I’m not gonna lie, I’m not even 32 years old, so to join her in celebrating a career that spanned three decades was an experience I’ll not soon forget. As she tearfully delivered a speech to the group, I was moved by one particular statement. She said, “You know, Southwest hires good people, but we become better after working here.”
What an incredible statement to be said about a company. But for those of us who spend our days at Southwest Airlines, we get it. We’re a living and breathing family of 35,000. As family goes, there are times you ban together, challenge each other, celebrate one another, and sometimes, if times are tough, you fight to survive. I think about the milestones Annie must have experienced here in her 32 years. She saw our airline grow from a fleet of a couple planes to become the largest domestic carrier in the United States, and everything in between.
Last week, our Family was honored as one of Fortune’s World's Most Admired Companies. We’re humbled by this recognition from our peers. There are a lot of factors that go into determining what makes a company admirable. For me, however, it’s testimonies like Annie’s that tell the true story of a company’s heritage. It’s about taking care of your People. When they’re happy, Customers are happy. When Customers are happy, Shareholders are happy. It’s a domino effect, and it’s been Southwest’s philosophy for 40 years.
Southwest Airlines answers to more than just the bottomline. In fact, we say we answer to the Triple Bottomline of People, Planet, and Performance. The Southwest Airlines One Report ™ is our annual report that speaks to our finances, our People, and the communities in which we operate. We know that our Company’s sustained profitably depends on all three factors.
So thank you to Fortune for this great honor, but more importantly, thank you to the Employees of Southwest Airlines who, like Annie, give of their time, talents and heart to ensure the success of our airline through the best of times and the worst of times.