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.
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.”