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Southwest Airlines Community

Building a Foundation: An Update on our Commitment to Inclusion


The summer of 2020 was a season of learning for Southwest Airlines in many ways. It heightened our awareness of social injustice and initiated an increased focus on our own diversity and inclusion efforts—specifically how we can evolve. We identified that the first step to accomplishing these goals was to concentrate on key diversity areas such as diversifying Senior Leadership, improving diversity in hiring, mentorship and sponsorship, improving the retention and upward mobility of diverse talent, and training for Leaders and Employees. In the year since, we have taken tangible steps to build the required infrastructure, processes, and practices to meet these objectives.


Our Commitment

In September 2020, Southwest Airlines set the following company goals to strengthen and improve our efforts in creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive opportunities, candidate pipelines, and to champion an inclusive environment and experience for all Employees:

  • Hiring & Development Practices: Evolving hiring and development practices to support diversity goals, including posting all open Leadership positions (Supervisor to Vice President).
  • Senior Leadership Diversity: Measuring progress in increasing diversity in Senior Leadership.
  • Senior Management Committee Diversity: Doubling the percentage of racial diversity and increasing gender diversity of our Senior Management Committee by 2025.
  • Community Partners: Engaging a breadth of community partners to leverage the Company’s relationships as it sources diverse talent.


Joining us in this effort, Southwest Airlines’ Board of Directors committed to increase diverse representation of the Board by 2025.


Our Progress

One year later, we are making steady progress to increase racial and gender diversity in Leadership. We recently announced the promotion of Juan Suarez from Managing Director, Deputy General Counsel in the Legal Department to Vice President Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. In this role, he will serve as the executive-level champion for organizational goals related to diversity, equity, and inclusion both internally and externally. We also formed an Executive Steering Committee to support the strategic direction of this progress.


Additional strides include evolving our talent acquisition processes by requiring diverse candidate slates and diverse interview panels for all Leadership roles (Supervisor to Vice President). We are currently working with over 188 Community partners in support of developing diverse and inclusive talent and recruiting efforts, and we have launched a formal Sponsorship and Mentorship Program. We also established a cross-functional working Team with members from various departments to support efforts such as establishing a Diversity Recruiting Center of Excellence (COE) and enhancements to our existing Supplier Diversity Program.


Southwest Airlines DEI Progress UpdateSouthwest Airlines DEI Progress Update



Internally, we also launched a DEI Resource website, created an Allyship Guide, and launched the ability to create Employee-led groups. The purpose of these initiatives are to empower Employees to explore, educate, and further connect in the DEI space.


We recognize that our work is not done. Our goal is to cultivate a diverse and inclusive experience for all People to thrive (Employees, Customers, and Partners). We will continue to fuel this ongoing momentum as we strive for sustainable and systemic change through consistent progress.


Our Future

In addition to continually evolving our initiatives, the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Team is building a five-year strategic plan. Our motivation is to be a healthy organization where Employees thrive, feel appreciated, feel valued, and have an authentic sense of belonging. Our goal is to provide regular progress updates on our commitments, share our plan of action, and announce our long-standing DEI vision later this year.

For more on DEI, check out Hispanic Heritage Month: Embracing My Culture and HeritageHonoring Black History MonthAn Employee’s Take on Asian Cuisine, Culture, and the Need for UnityTaking PRIDE in our Diverse SuppliersJoin us! Southwest Named “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion”, and Southwest Airlines Announces Commitment to Increase Diversity in Leadership.