Andy Schneider, SVP, People, will discuss Alaska Airlines' growth and support for its people and culture as travel rebounds in 2021.
About the CHRO Next Practices Monthly Series
A continuation of i4cp's popular Action call series, which began in March 2020 to help address the immediate needs of CHROs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, this monthly series features fantastic guests from some of the largest and most respected organizations in the world. It highlights next practices discovered in our research to help you navigate this next normal. We’ll also focus on the latest thinking from our Boards, which feature some of the top executives in the profession.
Alaska Airlines is the 5th largest airline in the US serving over 46 million guests annually and flies to over 115 cities across the US and over 900 destinations worldwide. They are based in Seattle with hubs also including Portland, Anchorage, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
During this session, Andy shared with us the trials and tribulations that faced Alaska Airlines over the past 15 months, how they managed through them, and where they are today.
Call Highlights & Discussion:
- The events of the past 15 months would have been much
more catastrophic had the culture of Alaska Airlines not been as strong as
it was. They feel that due to the strength of their culture, a significant
number of employees were willing to take a voluntary leave of absence when
they experienced a major decline in business; the company lost 95% of its
revenue stream basically overnight.
In addition, the CEO and COO
both cut their salaries entirely and many other executives volunteered to
take pay cuts to help the airline get through this crisis.
- In order to ensure customers who chose to fly felt as
safe as possible, they implemented an even higher level of care around
cleanliness of the planes. more touchless options when paying by credit
card, mandating masks for all on the plane with a zero tolerance policy
for those who refused. To get the word out to as many current and
potential customers as possible, they put together a marketing campaign
which included the following video (very worth the watch!) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9w_paUjzKs
- The company is now back to pre-pandemic revenue for leisure travel (which is 70% of its business), and anticipates it will be back to around 50% pre-pandemic levels for business travel by the end of 2021.
- The social unrest of the past year was also a huge area
of focus for Alaska Air. While they’ve had a strong relationship with the
United Negro College Fund (UNCF for many years, offering scholarships to
students among many other things). However, for these times, they felt
they needed to do more. After much discussion and in partnership with the
UNCF, The Commitment Plane was launched – a 737 painted completely black
and which includes quotes by Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and
Maya Angelou on one side and silhouettes of children of some of the Alaska
employees on the other. The Commitment Plane also serves Alaska Air
employees and guests as a visual reminder of the company’s focus on
diversity and inclusion, and will be in the air for another decade or
- To further their DE&I efforts, Alaska also came out with revised commitments to racial equity, conducted a deep dive into their culture, are doubling down on continuing to improve on their inclusion index, and are looking at more creative avenues for talent acquisition and internal mobility with a specific eye on diversity and inclusion.