American Airlines establishes LGBT, Women’s Customer Advisory Groups

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American Airlines has established two advisory councils: one focused on LGBT travelers, the other on women travelers. 

Advisory Council members provide ongoing and ad hoc market feedback on American’s position within their respective communities. Additional duties are to contribute input on market trends, community concerns and program concepts that promote growth within these customer groups, including the content on two specialized marketing pages on American’s Web site: aa.com/rainbow and aa.com/women.  Links to these pages appear on the Diversity and Inclusion main page.

“The advisory councils are a natural extension of our long-time commitment to diverse communities, internally and externally,” said Roger Frizzell, American’s vice president for corporate communications and advertising. “Council members are community leaders who will help American grow and sustain relationships within the LGBT and women markets. The councils’ ongoing feedback on specialized customer initiatives and marketing programs will be invaluable in guiding our planning and future outreach.                                                    

“This type of fully integrated approach is key in fostering our historically strong connection to our changing customer and employee base while pursuing a diverse segment marketing strategy that directly speaks to our business goals.”

LGBT Advisory Council members are: Tracy Baim, Publisher and Executive Editor, Windy City Times; Yvette Burton, Senior Business Development Executive, IBM Global Services; Michael Donohue, Executive Director, Vijay Amritraj Foundation; Andrew Freeman, Founder and CEO, Andrew Freeman & Co.; Eric Marcus, writer and New York Times bestselling author; and Thomas J.R. Solender, Marketing Director, Solender/Hall, Inc.

American Airlines outreach and reputation with LGBT customers has been established for more than a decade.  American is the first and only major airline to have earned the Human Rights Campaign’s 100 percent top ranking on the Corporate Equality Index since its start six years ago.  American Airlines Rainbow Marketing TeAAm also is considered a first among Fortune 500 companies, and responsible for the creation of the airline’s gay-welcoming Web portal, www.aa.com/rainbow.

Serving on the Women’s Advisory Council are: Christine Banning, Vice President of Corporate Relations, SCORE Association; Mary Jean Duran, Founder, Duran Alvarez Solutions; Elaine J. Eisenman, Dean of Babson Executive Education, Babson College; Joi Gordon, CEO, Dress for Success;  Marilyn Johnson, Vice President Market Development, IBM; Lisbeth McNabb, Founder and CEO, w2wlink.com; and Barbara Moses, Publisher, VIV Magazine.

American has long supported causes important to women and families, notably Susan G. Komen for the Cure, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.  For women travelers, there are a variety of appealing features, including exclusive partner offers on AA.com/women. 

American has expanded in-flight entertainment programming with more options that appeal to women and families, and the airline is testing onboard Internet service, a boon to women who need to keep in touch while in-flight.  There are healthier food-for-sale choices, such as breakfast cereal, a cheese and crackers tray, and different specialty beverages including Lipton Green Tea with Citrus. Trail mix – produced by a woman-owned supplier – is available as a permanent food-for-sale snack offering.  Admirals Club will soon offer broader and healthier food choices as well. Many Admirals Club lounges have children’s playrooms, and two more are scheduled to open in the coming months: at Chicago O’Hare’s Concourse HK lounge this fall, and in Boston in early 2009.  Several clubs offer spa-like showers, a welcome opportunity to freshen up before, after or between flights.

American has also expanded the diversity and inclusion information on its AA.com Website.  The airline’s commitment to diversity and inclusion can be explored within the site’s “About Us” section, just one click from the home page. There, in the most information-rich offering among airline Web sites, American provides specifics about its Diversity Leadership Strategy, Supplier Diversity program, Careers and Awards and Recognition received for its inclusive culture and focus on diversity.  The Employees link provides an overview of American’s 15 Employee Resource Groups. Two representatives from each of these groups serve on the airline’s Diversity Advisory Council.  

“Our commitment to diversity leadership helps us to foster an environment where individuals’ experience and perspectives are valued and to ensure that customers and communities receive service delivered by committed, passionate people,” said Frizzell. “This commitment also supports our ongoing supplier diversity program to identify minority-, women-, LGBT-owned and small businesses to be considered as potential business partners for American.  The enhanced information available online at AA.com, along with these new advisory councils, will definitely help to continue and grow our commitment to these important audiences.”