Virgin Atlantic’s crew, pilots and ground staff can now wear whichever of its uniforms they feel most comfortable in, regardless of the original male or female design of its red skirt suit or burgundy trousers.
The airline has announced a gender identity policy that lets its staff choose which of the Vivienne Westwood-designed outfits they wear to work – “no matter their gender, gender identity or gender expression”.
Virgin said the move was to reflect the diversity of the workforce, and to reinforce its branding campaign as welcoming and inclusive, after recent moves to relax rules on visible tattoos.
The airline will also start using optional pronoun badges for crew and passengers, who can request them at check-in to ensure people use their preferred pronouns. Its ticketing systems will also allow people whose passports have gender neutral markers – available in the US, India and Pakistan – to travel using those gender codes and the title Mx.
Virgin will also start mandatory inclusivity training, and initiatives for hotels in destinations such as the Caribbean, where some people have faced more barriers.
Juha Järvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, said: “It’s so important that we enable our people to embrace their individuality and be their true selves at work. It is for that reason that we want to allow our people to wear the uniform that best suits them and how they identify and ensure our customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns.”
Virgin brought in Michelle Visage, one of the judges on the hit reality TV show Ru Paul’s Drag Race, to promote its policy. Visage said the initiative was important to her personally, saying: “People feel empowered when they are wearing what best represents them, and this gender identity policy allows people to embrace who they are.”
The airline was one of the first to relax rules on makeup in an industry where crew often have to follow stringent guidelines on appearance.