American Airlines has vowed to take steps to combat racism, including teaching implicit bias training to its employees, following a meeting with the NAACP.
“While we are proud of our longstanding commitment to equality and diversity — from the team members we hire to the communities we serve — discrimination and implicit bias sometimes create outcomes that are less than ideal for many of our team members and customers,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in a statement on Thursday.
Parker outlined a four-part approach: implementing company-wide implicit bias training, conducting diversity and inclusion analysis, improving internal oversight, and revamping their discrimination claims process.
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The changes in policy come after the second meeting with the NAACP following an October incident in which a prominent African-American activist claimed she was removed from an American Airlines flight because of her race.
Tamika Mallory, an activist and one of the co-chairs of the Women's March, was kicked off a flight to New York in October following a dispute with a gate agent over her seat assignment. After the dispute was seemingly resolved, a white male pilot had her removed from the plane when she had already boarded. She recounted in a tearful Facebook video how several security officers escorted her and a companion off the plane.
Following the incident, the NAACP issued a travel advisory October 24 warning African Americans about their safety when flying on American Airlines. The civil rights group cited other incidents in addition to Mallory’s case, calling the situation a “pattern of disturbing incidents.”
Leadership from NAACP congratulated the airline on the change but said the organization would not reverse its travel advisory until it saw significant change.
“This is a good start to changing internal processes that allow for discrimination, racism and implicit bias to continue to exist within companies,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson in a statement. “We think that the steps taken by American Airlines, if fully implemented, will not only change the way they engage their customers and employees but will serve as a model for other companies.”