British Airways has an Interfaith Network group that brings together people of different faiths and beliefs in the workplace. It is open to people of faith or no faith who are interested in employee and business issues to support colleagues and the company as a whole. Recent topics that have been discussed include:
- Reviewing faith issues that may arise in the opening of new routes.
- Understanding the meaning of different religious festivals and assessing their impact on the business.
- Working with local airport chaplains on issues that impact on customers and colleagues.
Members of the group have provided guidance on varied topics, from uniform issues such as the wearing of the modesty uniform, to offering advice on catering and prayer facilities. The Interfaith Network also comes together to promote understanding by participating in various events during Diversity Week.
Interfaith Network in practice
A good example highlighting where our Interfaith Network has significantly helped can be seen through our flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). British Airways resumed flights between London Heathrow and the Kingdom on 31 May 2009 and now operates frequent flights from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to both Jeddah and Riyadh.
Due to the cultural sensitivities of this new route, we need to brief our airport staff, cabin crew and flight crew on matters such as religious law, cultural differences, values and expectations, prohibited articles, behaviour, personal safety and security.
These briefings ensure we provide a culturally sensitive and responsive service in matters such as:
- inflight catering
- inflight entertainment
- seating arrangements
From a colleague perspective this raising of cultural awareness provides some factual information and insights into the country. It also provides a platform to discuss any questions, assumptions or issues our colleagues may have, such as the wearing of the Abaya, religious symbols that can be taken into the country and gender segregation whilst in the country. In order to ensure the information is accurate our Sales & Marketing teams work closely with our Muslim Society, Diversity team, local overseas managers and HR colleagues, as well as local UK embassy contacts. Colleagues are then briefed through a variety of communication channels, such as emails, face-to-face briefing sessions and specific documentation.
Due to its resounding success in Saudi Arabia, this scheme is being used as a template when adding new routes to our network.