American Airlines employees will take mandatory annual implicit bias training starting in 2018, after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a travel advisory warning Black travelers that they could encounter racism from the airline, KTLA-TV.
“This is a good start to changing internal processes that allow for discrimination, racism and implicit bias to continue to exist within companies. 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,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and Johnson met on Thursday to discuss the civil rights organization’s travel advisory, which was issued in October. The advisory said the NAACP had been monitoring “a pattern of disturbing incidents” involving Black passengers on American Airlines. It urged African Americans to “exercise caution” when booking and boarding flights with the airline, warning that they could be subjected to “disrespect, discrimination or unsafe conditions.” The civil rights group highlighted four cases, among a long list, that it said points to a corporate culture that condone “racial insensitivity.” In one of the incidents cited, American Airlines moved a Black woman to the back of her flight even though she purchased a first-class ticket, while allowing her White travel companion to remain seated in first-class. The mounting incidents inspired the hashtag “#FlyingWhileBlack.”
In a letter to employees, Parker said the airline is “proud of the diversity and inclusion initiative in place,” but acknowledged “we can do even better,” the news outlet reported. The NAACP called the anti-racism training “a positive step” but plans to keep the advisory in place “until sufficient progress toward the goals are met.”