Doug Parker is chairman and CEO of American Airlines Group Inc. and American Airlines Inc., its principal subsidiary company. He was named to the position in 2013, following the merger of American Airlines and US Airways Inc., where he was chairman and CEO.
Under Parker’s leadership, US Airways achieved record revenue growth, operational performance and profit margins that outpaced most industry peers. He has been a vocal proponent of airline industry consolidation, which provides a more stable and competitive industry for employees, customers, communities and stockholders.
Here, he discusses diversity and inclusion at American, striving to make American a global leader, the importance of diverse suppliers, and team members at American.
Q: Tell us a little about your background.
I started my career in the finance department at American Airlines in 1986. After five years at American, I moved to Northwest Airlines Inc. and then to America West Airlines Inc., which later merged with US Airways. And, of course, US Airways and American merged in 2013 to create the new American Airlines. I’m honored to serve as CEO of the combined airline, and I couldn’t be more proud of all the work our team has accomplished since the merger. It’s an exciting time for our industry and for American in particular. Our continued integration has gone very well, and we are producing strong financial results, which is allowing us to return money to our shareholders, invest in our product and invest in our team members.
Q: How has diversity and inclusion changed at American Airlines since you became the CEO?
Diversity and inclusion have always been core principles for American Airlines. But now more than ever, those values are crucial for the success of our company. We are an airline that represents our world, rich in diversity — in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran/military status, religious affiliation, experience, thought, background and culture. Diversity and inclusion in the supply chain powers our ability to bring innovation, flexibility and a competitive marketplace to American, while positively impacting the economy in which we operate. Our supply chain reflects our customers and provides a return to our investors.
Q: As American Airlines looks at the changing market demographics and its diverse customer base, how will these shifts impact your talent pool, and how does diversity and inclusion fit into American Airlines’ vision for the future?
At American, our team members are the source of our success, with a clear connection between the quality of our team and the quality of the experience we can give our customers. We’re working hard to build the greatest airline in the world and can only do that with team members who are as diverse as the customers we serve. So, we’re working to recruit, develop, retain and engage the very best people and work with the very best suppliers — those with unique perspectives and ways of thinking that can help us become the global leader we’re poised to be. Leaders of the company are then accountable for cultivating an inclusive work environment that helps unleash all of our team members’ potential.
Q: What should diverse suppliers wanting to provide goods and services to American Airlines be prepared to bring to the table, and what advice would you give to applicants aspiring to work for American Airlines?
Building a strong airline requires a strong commitment to our customers, shareholders, business partners and team members. We must always act with integrity, treat others with respect and ensure every decision we make is a responsible and ethical one. We expect our suppliers to do the same. We are dedicated to including small and diverse businesses in procurement opportunities. American’s supplier diversity program, which was founded in 1989, has been a catalyst for incorporating diversity and inclusion into the fabric of our airline. The program adds value to our supply chain by giving certified small, minority-, LGBT- [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender], veteran- and women-owned businesses the opportunity to compete for contracts and participate in the procurement process. The supplier diversity program has contributed to American achieving a perfect 100 percent score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for 15 consecutive years.
Q: What are you passionate about and what drives you to be your best self?
I’m passionate about the professional men and women who work in the airline business. American’s team members and our colleagues across the industry do incredibly important work. They safely transport millions of customers to business meetings, family reunions and trips around the world. They make commerce go, and they make the world smaller and more inclusive. And they do all of that despite companies that have failed them and, in many cases, made their lives more difficult than they deserve. I’m at my best when I’m advocating for the hardworking team members of American Airlines. It’s easy to do.
Q: Looking to the future, where do you see acceptance for diversity and inclusion in the year 2020?
At American, diversity and inclusion aren’t aspirational goals, but the way we achieve success — both now and in the future. We’re proud of the culture we have created at American, but our work is not done. We will continue to be a leader in this space and work hard to ensure we maintain an environment that embraces diversity, inclusion, equality and respect.
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