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One Report -- Culture is the Name of the Game

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This is the fourth in a series of posts about our just-released integrated annual report, the 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report™, where we have illustrated our commitment to a triple bottom line and how our passion and focus on Performance, People, and Planet continues to propel us forward. 

It’s fair to say that Southwest’s Culture is kind of a big deal around here. We believe we each own a piece of it, and we protect it fiercely. In fact, when it came to our 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report, we recognized a direct link from the health of our Culture to the financial health of our Company. We believe this link has been the key to our success for the last 40 years. One might wonder why a company’s Culture is relevant in an annual report.  Aren’t annual reports supposed to be documents for shareholders to read facts and figures pertaining to a Company’s bottom line? To some companies, the answer is “yes”.   At Southwest Airlines, however, we report to a Triple Bottom Line of Performance, People, and Planet.  The 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report is for those who love this Company, those who invest in this Company, and those who are affected directly and indirectly by how Southwest operates in their community.

You may have encountered one of our Fun-LUVing Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants who instead of reciting a rehearsed speech, chose to sing the pre-flight safety instructions. Or maybe you came across a Gate Agent who had the entire gate area sing happy birthday to an unsuspecting Customer.  It’s apparent at Southwest that we love to have fun. We love to make Customers feel special. But our Culture goes beyond having Fun. It’s about taking care of each other, whether it is a Coworker, a Customer, or a community.

We have an entire department dedicated to sustaining our Culture and taking care of our Employees. Southwest also has a Corporate Culture Committee comprised of dozens of Employees from across the country who go beyond their job description to dedicate themselves to sustaining our Culture. It’s not all fun and games when it comes to Culture (though, that’s an important part). It’s celebrating each other’s victories and mourning each other’s losses. It is creating a working environment where someone can bring their whole self to work, both their talent and their heart.

For those of us at Southwest Airlines, the link from Culture to financial health is apparent. When our Employees are happy, our Customers are happy. When our Customers are happy, our Shareholders are happy. It’s a philosophy we are dedicated to.

We are proud of our commitment to being a good citizen of the world.  We look forward to sharing the journey with you in our blog posts on Performance, People, and Planet, and we hope it will inspire you to read our 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report™, which, in an effort to conserve our natural resources, can only be found online at

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this is by far the best airline i have ever flown on the service is wonderful the pilots the stewardess and the ground people affiliated with southwest i have only flown several times i will nwver fly any other airlines but SOUTHWEST i feel safe on this airline i just wish all airlines would be cheaper to fly but even if southwest was more expensive i would chose thank you southwest
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I LUV Southwest. I fly Southwest whenever I am able because (after flying the competitors) you can see the commitment of every Southwest employee to the stated goals of the organization. The triple bottom line report is fantastic, and I applaud the idea that a sustainable company, that has happy and valued employees, and takes their footprint on the planet we all share seriously will make the customer happy as a result. The problem is, in one area of Southwest's strategy, I am supremely disappointed. I have been getting a couple of Southwest Visa card applications a month in the mail. I love the benefits, fly Southwest all the time, would love to get the frequent flyer benefits, and am pleased with the terms of the card. I would have long ago signed up, if it were not for the affiliation with Chase. It seems a betrayal of Southwest's corporate culture and commitment to environmentally sustainable operations to offer a card through the financier of mountaintop removal coal mining in West VA. I am an active volunteer in my area's mountain trail association in Missouri. To see what coal mining companies are doing to the Appalachian mountains breaks my heart. I can not abide my card fees and interest being poured into such a short-sighted and environmentally destructive practice as mountaintop removal mining. I find it hard to reconcile that Southwest flies planes over the flattened and denuded areas where this mining occurs, but still partners with the company that makes it possible. So, today, I am looking at my Chase/Southwest card application fall into my recycling bin, again.