Times have changed, and I’m in favor of airlines getting rid of policies that are inherently sexist, or limit peoples’ freedoms.
Obviously different cultures are at different stages, so something that’s viewed as sexist in the US may not be viewed as sexist elsewhere (we could probably debate the merit of that all day long).
To give one example, in the US I couldn’t imagine an airline requiring flight attendants to do their hair in a certain way, or wear makeup in a certain way (decades ago that was the norm, but not anymore). Conversely, Singapore Airlines continues to use the “Singapore Girl” as their most recognizable brand image, without much pushback.
Virgin Atlantic is interesting in this regard. The airline tries to create an image as being “sexy,” but personally I think they manage to do so without trying to objectify their employees. So in my opinion they strike a pretty good balance there.
Even though the airline is very much about “appearances,” I’m happy to see that Virgin Atlantic has just changed their grooming and dress policies for cabin crew. What’s changing?
- Virgin Atlantic will no longer require female cabin crew to wear makeup; if cabin crew (male or female) do choose to wear makeup, they should use the company’s suggested color palette, though
- All female Virgin Atlantic flight attendants will automatically be provided with pants as a uniform option in addition to a skirt, while previously pants had to be specifically requested
Virgin Atlantic’s Executive Vice President of Customer had the following to say:
“We have been listening to the views of our people and as a result have announced some changes to our styling and grooming policy that support this. Not only do the new guidelines offer an increased level of comfort, they also provide our team with more choice on how they want to express themselves at work. Helping people to be themselves is core to our desire to be the most loved travel company.”
Kudos to Virgin Atlantic for making these changes, which are in line with what I’d expect from a company that’s as progressive as them.