The following blog is co-authored by Juan Suarez, Sonya Lacore, and Elizabeth, Bryant
“I don’t consider myself a victim because I’m no longer being victimized. I don’t consider myself a survivor, because I am more than surviving. I consider myself a liberator. One who has broken free from the chains of her past and is determined to make a difference in the lives of others.” Those poignant words belong to Shamere McKenzie, CEO of the Sungate Foundation.
Shamere McKenzie, CEO of the Sungate Foundation
Today, on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, Southwest Airlines is announcing an expansion of our efforts to combat Human Trafficking. World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is a day established by the United Nations to raise awareness of the plight of Human Trafficking victims and to promote and protect their rights.
The theme of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons this year, “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way,” puts victims of Human Trafficking at the center of the campaign and highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of Human Trafficking. Our work with long-standing community partner Polaris—a leader in the fight to end Human Trafficking—and our investment of e-passes (complimentary air travel) directly helps Human Trafficking survivors.
Additionally, we’re introducing the following efforts to combat this important issue: Southwest Airlines is adding lavatory placards in all aircraft promoting the Human Trafficking Hotline and the immediate support which our Flight Attendants can provide.
Adding lavatory placards in all aircraft promoting the Human Trafficking Hotline and the immediate support which our Flight Attendants can provide.
Promoting the Points for a Purpose Program and how Rapid Rewards Members can support our community partner, Polaris, on Southwest.com and our Inflight Entertainment Portal. Customers can visit Southwest.com to donate their Rapid Rewards points.
Adding a Human Trafficking message and Polaris website on Southwest’s Inflight Entertainment Portal, beginning Aug. 1.
As Shamere shares, “When a survivor calls and says they need help now and they can get access to jump on a plane immediately; that is lifesaving.” That’s why a Rapid Rewards donation from a Customer is so vital to victims of Human Trafficking.
Southwest Airlines has a long-standing commitment to being a good global citizen. Our Company recognizes the importance of being aware of societal issues impacting communities around the world, especially those directly related to the airline industry—including Human Trafficking. We’re pleased to share that we’re expanding our efforts to combat Human Trafficking. As an airline, it’s important we do our part to understand this issue, be able to identify indicators of Human Trafficking instances, and advocate for those who may be in a difficult situation.
Southwest Airlines is proud to support multiple nonprofit organizations whose efforts help with the rescue, recovery, and restoration of Human Trafficking survivors. These organizations include Polaris, United Against Human Trafficking, Rethreaded, Project Concern International, Ho‘ōla Nā Pua, and Ayuda.
These efforts are just the latest steps in the Company’s fight against Human Trafficking. Since 2019, Southwest Airlines has publicly reiterated our commitment to bringing greater awareness to Human Trafficking. These efforts have included:
Launching an online curriculum that educated Employees on how to better understand what Human Trafficking is, identify Human Trafficking instances, and how to take action if they suspect a potential Human Trafficking situation.
Specialized training for our Customer-facing Employees (Flight Attendants, Pilots, and Ground Operations Employees).
We are thankful to the many Employees who have worked tirelessly to make these efforts a reality. Their time and attention to this important issue has the potential to truly change lives.
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In 2019, Southwest Airlines joined the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Business Coalition for the Equality Act and joined an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief that was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Equality Act was a proposed federal law that would provide the same basic protections to the LGBTQ community as are provided to other protected groups under federal law.
Yesterday, history was made when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-3 that the Civil Rights Act (CRA) protects LGBTQ Employees from discrimination. Previously, Title VII of the CRA banned employment discrimination on the basis of "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." Now, the definition of sex includes gay, bisexual, and transgender workers. That means it's illegal for employers to fire workers on the basis of their LGBTQ status.
While this doesn’t change anything for Southwest since our current internal discrimination policy already included these protected categories, we are pleased that LGBTQ employees are protected under the law throughout the nation, no matter where in the U.S. they’re employed.
Southwest is a People-centric Company built by love, with a 49-year history of living by the Golden Rule, treating others with respect, and embracing diversity. We were proud to earn a perfect score on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for the fifth consecutive year in 2019.
I hope you’ll join us in celebrating this wonderful news!
Juan Suarez Managing Director, Deputy General Counsel
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