At an employee event this past week American Airlines CEO Doug Parker was asked about the Black Lives Matter wristband he was wearing and he offered, “I understand it’s somewhat controversial because of the organization but the words are what I care about and I’ve been wearing it since the murder of George Floyd.”
In late May, days after Floyd was killed, Parker had a personal interaction with a Southwest Airlines flight attendant over race that went viral after he flew the airline and was carrying the book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism which had been recommended by a board member months earlier, but that he’d put aside distracted by the coronavirus crisis.
In September Parker and his wife took this flight attendant to dinner. And shortly thereafter American made Black Lives Matter pins available to employees. (Of course United Airlines is far more woke than American.)
In the fall I criticized Parker for talking up issues of race without having African Americans in leadership at the airline. However Lakshman Amaranayaka was named Vice President of the Philadelphia hub in December, when American moved Jim Moses to Dallas Fort-Worth, and Cedric Rockamore – American’s once-Vice President for DFW, is back as a new Vice President in HR.
Parker used to wear a wristband, in his telling, “that says CECFTM, which is a terrible acronym because it doesn’t say anything, but it stands for Create an Environment that Cares for our Frontline Team Members.” My biggest takeaway from the Black Lives Matter bracelet question is that he’s no longer wearing a band that says CECFTM.