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Southwest Airlines One Report: Our Citizenship

Adventurer C

This is the fourth in a series of posts about our new Southwest One Report ™—a single report on our triple bottomline of Performance, People, and Planet adhering to Global Reporting Initiative standards.

Have you read the Southwest One Report™ yet? You might ask what this report means to you. Well, I’m just going to throw these reasons out there: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Corporate Citizenship, and Sustainability. Have I lost your attention yet? Stay with me. It’s important. I have no doubt that you’ve heard one or all of these words used in relation to a business at some point or another. But what do those words mean to Southwest Airlines and our Customers (or prospective Customers)? Great question. I’m glad you asked.

First, let me clear this up. Each of these phrases is completely interchangeable with the other: It’s kind of like how Southwest Airlines calls our Human Resources Department, “The People Department.” They’re the same thing, but we chose to name that department with a title that would resonate with our People and align with our Company values and Culture. The same is true for Citizenship. Each company that practices Citizenship calls it something that speaks to their brand and company values.

Whatever you call it, the important thing to know is that Citizenship and the values behind it are driving business strategy for companies around the world including Southwest Airlines. In short, Citizenship is a word used to describe how a company “does the right thing” and functions ethically. It’s making business decisions that not only affect our People, Shareholders, Customers, Communities, and bottomline today, but in the long run, as well. How will the decisions we make today impact future generations? (See, I told you it was important.)

The Citizenship umbrella encompasses everything from a company’s philanthropic philosophy, corporate volunteerism, and environmental efforts to its supplier diversity, hiring practices, and sustainability efforts. At Southwest Airlines, we believe that our Citizenship efforts contribute directly to our continued profitability. The Southwest One Report™ is one of the first annual reports of its kind to speak to both the financial health and Citizenship efforts of our Company in the same document. For instance, Southwest knows that when the communities where we operate are prosperous, then our Company will prosper as well. That’s why we are dedicated to charitable organizations, community programming, and supporting Employee volunteerism. One of the community programs close to our hearts is the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program that provides complimentary travel to medical transportation organizations and hospitals across the country for distribution to patients who must travel for medical care. In 2009, Southwest increased our giving to this program by 33 percent.

While “doing the right thing” is nothing new to Southwest Airlines–after all, The Golden Rule is taught in our New Hire training and reiterated in our Leadership development classes–reporting on it in this manner is new. Southwest recognizes that our Employees, Customers, Shareholders, and communities want this information, and we’re pleased to offer a visually appealing piece that is both informative and easy to understand.

To read the One Report™ and learn about how your favorite airline is doing well by doing good, visit