Southwest Airlines operates on the guiding principles of civility and taking care of others with our collective Southwest Heart. As a Company, we have a passion for doing the right thing. With this cornerstone value in mind, today we are reiterating our support of the global efforts to eliminate Human Trafficking by launching online curriculum for all of our Employees.
The purpose of this curriculum is to provide an overview of the crime of Human Trafficking. At the end of the curriculum, our goal is for Employees to better understand what Human Trafficking is, be able to identify Human Trafficking instances, and be prepared to take action, if necessary, if they suspect they have encountered a potential Human Trafficking situation. This commitment is further strengthened by the work of nonprofit organizations Polaris, United against Human Trafficking, and Rethreaded who Southwest proudly supports as they combat Human Trafficking and provide support to survivors.
Southwest partnered with nonprofit organization Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery, for the content included in this curriculum. This initial phase of optional curriculum is just the first step on this journey. Beginning in 2020, we will start introducing a second phase of required training for our Customer-facing Employees that will focus on specific processes and procedures related to this issue.
Southwest is stepping up our commitment to fight against Human Trafficking because this issue is prevalent in our industry and taking place in our own backyard. Even members of our own Southwest Family have been impacted by Human Trafficking.
When Heather Norcilus, a Learning Multimedia Developer in our Southwest Airlines University Department, was assigned to develop a Companywide curriculum, she had no idea just how closely the topic would hit to home.
Heather, and many other collaborators across the Company, have worked with Polaris to create a computer-based curriculum focused on identifying Human Trafficking.
This project had an extra personal connection for Heather as one of her friends is a survivor of Human Trafficking. “My friend was promised all these things, put on a plane to Florida, and then it wasn’t anything she had agreed to,” Heather shared. “When you think of Human Trafficking, it’s easy to picture the victims in some far away land, but it’s an issue that happens closer than you think—including places where Southwest serves.”
In this case, Heather’s friend was trafficked out of East Texas. “She was flown to Florida with the promise of money and perks to get out of a rough background, but she was lied to,” said Heather. “As a human I felt stuck; I didn’t know what to do or how to help. But, in the midst of this darkness we can be a light and a voice for those who are trapped.”
Thankfully Heather’s friend has since escaped her situation, but her story is like so many others—many of whom are still in these situations—and makes it clear that this issue can happen anywhere. That is why providing Employees with the resources to help identify and report trafficking and continuing our work with Partners like Polaris is so important to Southwest.
“I am so grateful to work for a Company that is taking important steps toward this major issue, especially because it is so personal for me,” said Heather. “I am excited that this is just the starting point of future awareness and training. I believe all the work everyone is doing is so worth it and the future impact is unmeasurable!”
In recognition of World Day against Trafficking in Persons, I hope you’ll join us in this fight by learning more about this important issue.
Polaris: A leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery, Polaris systematically disrupts the Human Trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. Polaris’ comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what they do—helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate.
United Against Human Trafficking (UAHT): UAHT is dedicated to ending Human Trafficking through awareness, education, and outreach. This organization identifies those trapped in cycles of exploitation and connects them to direct services. They also educate diverse communities to know and report the signs of Human Trafficking, while uniting the Greater Houston area against this crime.
Rethreaded: Rethreaded is a mindful gift company that provides long-term employment coupled with mental health services to survivors of Human Trafficking in Jacksonville, FL. A Repurpose with Purpose nonprofit partner, Rethreaded's mission is to renew hope, reignite dreams, and release potential for survivors of Human Trafficking locally and globally through business.
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We're sincerely sorry for letting you down with the changes to our flight schedule. Since we don’t have an unlimited number of aircraft and Employees, we have to make the most out of what we have and create a flight schedule that maximizes our resources, ensures cost savings (and low fares), and offers the best overall product to our Customers. I know that an explanation does not solve the problem of getting you from point A to point B, and I’m truly sorry to know that we might lose your patronage for even one trip as a result of our schedule changes. My hope is that, when we service a route that fits your travel needs, you’ll continue to choose Southwest as your patronage means the world to us.
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The past month has been a very sad and somber time for all of us at Southwest Airlines, and our entire Southwest Family mourns the loss of Jennifer Riordan, who tragically lost her life on April 17 as a Customer on Flight #1380. In response to a 20/20 program about the events surrounding the accident, I welcome the opportunity to share an update with you and emphasize a few key points. First and foremost, my top priority at all times is the Safety and Security of our Employees and Customers—nothing is more important to me or the nearly 60,000 Southwest Family Members. Southwest Airlines has one of the best Safety records of any airline in the world throughout our nearly 48-year history. We are proud of our Safety record, and we work diligently every day to make a safe airline even safer. Once again, I commend our Crew of Flight #1380, our Team in Philadelphia who had the unexpected and very difficult task of serving these Customers, the first responders, the Customers onboard who responded heroically to attempt to save Mrs. Riordan, as well as our entire response Team at Southwest. We are in the early stages of the investigation—cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to find out exactly what happened and why. Due to the NTSB’s guidelines, we are limited in the information we are able to provide during the investigation, and we respect their oversight. As a result of the Flight #1380 accident, we accelerated an existing program by ordering the immediate inspection of all fan blades on the CFM56 engine family. These checks are performed by highly-skilled Southwest Mechanics using ultrasonic techniques. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to our Mechanics who answered the call and have worked diligently to perform these inspections—they have made us all very proud. We are on track for a mid-May completion date, and we will provide an update upon the completion of the inspections very soon. With a fleet of nearly 750 planes and 4,000 flights a day, we have a rigorous and federally-approved maintenance program, subject to continuous oversight by the FAA and in accordance with CFM’s maintenance guidelines. Our commitment to Safety is uncompromising. It is our highest priority—today and always.
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When I think about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there are several words that come to mind: civility, equality, respect, love, service, and community to name a few. I’m proud to be a part of a Company that leads with Heart—and even has the letters “LUV” as our NYSE stock symbol. Caring for our People and following The Golden Rule are part of our DNA at Southwest Airlines.
Today is a great reminder of the responsibility we each have to do our part to show kindness to one another and to embrace civility, even in difficult times. It seems like each day in the news I hear about issues that will personally affect our Employees or Customers, and I know that those feelings can sometimes create division.
Dr. King once said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” These are just a few of the many powerful and impactful words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I think they are a great reminder that even though our differences may separate us, love is an incredibly powerful force. We have seen great devastation brought on by natural disasters and senseless violence in recent months, and in the wake of these tragedies, I’ve been humbled by the selfless actions of our Employees and Customers to support—in many cases—people they’ve never even met.
I hope that we can all come together and be reminded today—and every day—of the importance of demonstrating civility to all we encounter.
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