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Virgin Atlantic pilots inclusive campaign to celebrate its updated gender identity policy


By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

September 28, 2022 | 4 min read

Virgin Atlantic has launched an integrated campaign to mark its decision to remove the requirement for gendered uniforms on board its flights.

Virgin Atlantic

The airline has dropped the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ in its uniform policy/ Image via Virgin Atlantic

As part of its inclusivity overhaul, the airline will now offer staff the option of choosing between its red and burgundy uniforms, dropping the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’, and meaning LGBTQ+ colleagues will be free to choose whichever uniform best suits them.

The update also includes the offer of pronoun name badges, as well as on the customer side, the opportunity for gender neutrality when it comes to pronouns and titles on its ticketing and bookings systems.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic has already made several updates to its uniform policy in recent years. “We used to have some pretty draconian rules about makeup,” explains vice-president of communications, Laura Brander. “So our first point of action in 2019 was to update our makeup policy.”

More recently, Virgin Atlantic has updated its tattoo policy, which previously stated all tattoos should be covered, “but now everyone can wear short sleeves and show them off,” says Brander. “As long as they’re not offensive, of course.”

Brander explains that the various updates form part of the brand’s larger platform of ‘See the World Differently,’ (“We want to make sure that everyone who works for us is given more choice”) that was initially launched as a recruitment drive following the height of the pandemic.

“We launched the initial advert and since then have tapped into a whole new pool of people who said they never applied before, but now felt like they could.”

The policy, in tandem with the campaign “form a sort of double helix between our frontline staff and the people who fly with us. If someone shows up for work feeling proud and engaged, then we know it’s going to positively impact the journey our customers have.”

Overall, Brander says these updates are part of the innovation that the Virgin brand is known for: “Customers will fly with us again and again because they see us doing these bold things.” The efforts are brought home by the integrated campaign from ad agency Lucky Generals and PR firm Tin Man, featuring Drag Race star Michelle Visage and non-binary influencers and dancers, as well as real-life Virgin staff.

Michelle Visage said on her appearance: “As the mother of a non-binary child, and as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, these efforts by Virgin Atlantic to further inclusivity for its people are extremely important and personal to me. People feel empowered when they are wearing what that best represents them, and this gender identity policy allows people to embrace who they are and bring their full selves to work.”

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