United Airlines and Delta Air Lines are talking about the death of George Floyd without mentioning him by name. Both carriers, one more publicly than the other, are stressing general principles of equality rather than addressing the incident directly.
Delta Air Lines: Focus On Thoughtful Action
In a note from CEO Ed Bastian published on delta.com, Bastian talks about the the juxtaposition between humans coming together to fight COVID-19 and how the death of George Floyd drove humans apart. Floyd is not mentioned by name. Instead, his death is called “the tragedy in Minneapolis”. Bastian calls upon Delta to set an example for healing wounds and treating others with dignity.
“In the last 90 days, we’ve experienced the best of humanity, with people coming together to care for one another and reigniting the meaning of community. Sadly, the tragedy in Minneapolis reminds us of the ugly reality that we are still experiencing humanity’s worst.
While thousands of our Delta Air Lines family members across Minneapolis – a city we consider our second home – and the world grieve, understanding our critical role as an ally is the first step.
Being a values-led brand means we not only raise our voices when something goes against our beliefs, we help amplify those who have been silenced. We often think we need all the answers, but it’s important to remember that we don’t need answers to know that racism, violence, bigotry and hatred have no seat at our table.
What happened in Minneapolis is not an outlier. Neither is what occurred in Georgia, New York and across the world where injustice lives in plain sight. While our words alone will not solve these crimes, thoughtful action combined with a focus on championing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and within our personal lives will play a healing role to help us keep climbing. The Delta family will use whatever means we have to move the world toward a better, more just tomorrow. #UntilWeAllCare”
United Airlines on George Floyd: Zero Tolerance For Racism
As a point of comparison, a note from United’s two most senior officers also does not mention Floyd bu name, instead talking only in general terms about race. This note was sent to employees and not made public, though shared with Live and Let’s Fly. It is signed by new United CEO Scott Kirby and United President Brett Hart.
“Dear United team,
The past few months have been incredibly challenging for the airline industry and our company as result of the impact of COVID-19. But the last week has been particularly painful for so many of us because we feel the anger, despair and grief that weighs on the hearts of so many in America and at United, especially our black employees. Diversity and inclusion is a cornerstone of our culture, and we have zero tolerance for racism in any shape or form. We’re proud to lead a company that strives to uphold core values around equality, inclusion and justice – and doesn’t shy away from talking about them.
Moving forward, we will, of course, continue to keep the safety and well-being of our employees our highest priority. Our United team has been through a lot this year and, as we persevere through the difficult days ahead, we’ll stand together against racism and in support of those from all walks of life working to promote reconciliation. We’re hosting a virtual leadership town hall on Wednesday, and we look forward to the opportunity to talk more about this with all of you then.
Scott and Brett”
I cover both notes because the airlines chose to address the issue, both chose to omit naming Floyd, and both offered similar platitudes of equality and understanding.
Do these note promote healing or are they just more lip service? Whatever the answer, both Delta and United felt they could not help but to address the difficult issue.
image: Bill Abbott / Flickr CC 2.0