As The Airline of Switzerland, we embody the traditional values of our home country. At the same time, we also stand for diversity: Our SWISSness comes in many different shapes and colours at all times, and during Pride Month in June, we celebrate it in a special way.
Alana from Human Resources Employee Experience Design and Peer from the internal LGBTIQ+ Community Core Team and Revenue Management explain in three chapters why a rainbow is more than just a coloured light for us, how we strengthen our Pride Community internally and how our award as an “LGBTI-friendly employer” was achieved. They also tell us transparently where we still have room for improvement.
Why are we hoisting the rainbow flag in front of our headquarters in June and changing our red SWISS logo to a colourful one on our social media channels?
Alana: SWISS is a cosmopolitan company that connects cultures and economies. That’s why diversity and equality have always been important components of our SWISS culture. On the occasion of the 25th Pride anniversary in 2019, we officially showed our colours to the external world for the first time and took an even more active stance in the area of LGBTIQ+ diversity.
Peer: Since this initial, explicit positioning, a lot has happened within our company and we are celebrating this June as “Pride Month” together with the LGBTIQ+ community in various ways: For example, we are inviting a trans pilot to an internal panel discussion, we as a community have visited other departments at the start of the month to engage in dialogue with colleagues over coffee and croissants, and we are taking part in Zurich and Bulle Pride. As a company, we demonstrate our solidarity with the community with a large rainbow flag in front of our headquarters and a logo change on social media. Then in July, we have a very special competition planned. So it’s going to be colourful!
And how do we as a company get committed to the LGBTIQ+ community outside of Pride Month June?
Alana: On the one hand, we had ourselves certified as an employer with the Swiss LGBTI Label in 2020. This aims to promote inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people and diversity in the workplace. We will tell you more about this (how it was achieved, but also where we still need to take action in this area) in the rest of this blog series.
On the other hand, equal treatment of all our employees has long been a standard for us. Everyone has the right to be themselves. Our personnel guidelines do not distinguish between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. All partners of our employees – regardless of their gender – benefit equally from offers for employees as well as pension fund and accident insurance.
Peer: In the area of young professionals, we are involved in the “Get connected” network for the intergenerational exchange of experience between students, young professionals and seniors. Here, the exchange of information on LGTBIQ+-related topics is practised and networking among people with different backgrounds is promoted.
We have also been involved in the queer Pink Apple Film Festival for many years – this year as the proud main partner. We have also been successfully cooperating with the Swiss lifestyle magazine for gays and friends “DISPLAY” for a long time.
And last year we invited various employees to publicly express their opinions on the topic of “Equal rights for all” and also introduced inclusive language. In our opinion, a sensitive use of language is an important building element for gender equality, because it means that female clients, female employees and people of other genders are not only “included”, but also specifically addressed. In this way, we want to express that diversity and inclusion are not just empty words at SWISS, but lived reality.
Peer, who is part of the Proud@SWISS Core Team, explains more about the launch and tasks of our internal Proud@SWISS network.
Peer, what exactly is “Proud@SWISS”?
Proud@SWISS is a collaboratively created LGBTIQ+ community by us employees that invites all SWISS colleagues – regardless of their sexual identity and orientation – to come together and exchange with each other. It also offers a point of contact for any personal concerns around the topic of LGBTIQ+.
How did the Proud@SWISS community develop?
The idea of an internal LGBTIQ+ network came about after our first participation in Zurich and Geneva Pride in 2019. As part of our certification with the Swiss LGBTI Label, the establishment of an internal LGBTIQ+ community was also recommended as a suggestion for improvement. No sooner Said than Done!
Who is behind Proud@SWISS?
Currently, the core team is a small group of colleagues from various departments who are promoting the topic independently and as volunteers. We are closely networked with Human Resources and the Communications and Marketing Department. We therefore develop many measures together and also implement them together.
We also think about activities around topics that are not only exciting and of interest to LGBTIQ+ employees. We also seek dialogue with people who are perhaps more critical of the topic and try to break down prejudices and barriers.
And what is the goal of the “Proud@SWISS” community?
One goal is to celebrate our culture of openness, diversity and acceptance internally as well as externally. We create awareness through visibility and bring people together. For example, this Pride Month we are organising several internal events or have invited a former female pilot to speak to us about her story as a trans pilot. And of course we give wings to the Prides in Zurich and Bulle!
In all our activities, it is very important to us not only to emphasise the positive, but also to target areas where there is still a need to catch up. For even more visibility, inclusion and tolerance. There can never be enough of that.
Even though our company culture is already characterised by diversity and inclusion, we still have areas of action where we need and want to improve, so we are not there yet.
Alana and Peer, what are your future plans for diversity and LGBTQI+?
Alana: For the future, we want to make our staff more diverse at all management levels. We are working on this with various networking and information events. And even in our company, there are still areas where an open approach to the topic of LGBTQI+ is not a matter of course for everyone. Here we want to build bridges and break down barriers. Sensitivity and dealing with the topic of “unconscious bias”, to which we refer and have already organised a lecture in the past, also contributes to this.
In order for us to receive the Swiss LGBTI Label again in 2023, which stands for the fact that we promote the inclusion of LGBTI people and diversity in the workplace, it is checked whether concrete actions have followed the identified fields of action. With the introduction of gender-sensitive language and the internal Proud@SWISS community (see above), we have already improved two of these areas.
Peer: After the pandemic slowed down our efforts somewhat for a variety of reasons, such as fewer personal contacts or scarce financial and human resources, we now want to take off again with the Proud@SWISS Community. Our goal remains to provide a strong sign of community to all our SWISS colleagues now and in the future. However, this is not only LGBTQI+ specific, but also with other internal interest groups as part of our culture-promoting measures.