Ed Bastian memo: Taking action on racial justice, diversity

Ed Bastian to Delta Colleagues Worldwide

Taking Action

Amid the global reckoning over historic racial inequality and injustice, we have been listening, learning and taking steps toward becoming an anti-racist, anti-discrimination organization. Those steps have included a series of virtual Town Halls on racial justice, updated Equal Opportunity and social media guidelines, a new library of anti-racism resources on Deltanet, and our advocacy for Georgia Hate Crimes legislation and police reform in Minnesota.

We’ve also taken a hard look at our own record on diversity. People of color currently represent 43 percent of Delta’s current employees, 35 percent of our overall leaders and 18 percent of our top 100 officers. But our Black colleagues represent 21 percent of our employee base, 16 percent of overall leaders and 7 percent of our top 100 officers.

That is not a picture of equity, nor is it reflective of the world we serve. As your leader, I take ownership of that performance and am committed to correcting our course as we become a more just, equal and anti-racist company.

This effort will require intentionality from every member of the executive team and determination at every level of the company. Every Delta leader must take personal, vested ownership in solving for the burdens Black and Brown communities have been carrying for too long. Our progress will be measured, and we will be accountable for achieving these goals.

While it is important to continue listening and learning, now is also the time to step up and take strong action. Some of these steps have already begun, some will be accomplished in the short term, and some will be realized over the long-term future. We will focus on the following areas: 

Rebuilding Delta to reflect our world.

  • Increasing the percentage of Black leaders to better reflect the total population of our employee base; doubling the percentage of Black Officers and Directors by 2025; and increasing Black representation on our Board of Directors.
  • Building stronger team diversity, representation and inclusion metrics into leadership performance reviews and targets.

Reimagining our talent strategy.

  • Requiring all hiring slates and interview panels to reflect diversity.
  • Removing qualification barriers for roles that do not require college degrees, allowing equal consideration for experience or certifications, which are more equitably accessible.
  • Expanding our recruiting efforts to include more Historically Black Colleges and Universities, while requiring all schools where we recruit to have strong diversity and inclusion plans.
  • Joining forces with coalitions like the 1 Million Jobs Initiative and working alongside other employers to provide 1 million good jobs over the next 10 years.
  • Strengthening our corporate internship, MBA and pipeline-development programs to increase opportunities for future Black professionals.

Addressing inequity.

  • Helping to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote, including supporting the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s call to attract new poll workers and leveraging our new Alumni BRG.
  • Ensuring Delta’s PAC giving evaluates a candidate’s ethics and commitment to working toward racial equality.
  • Actively seeking and supporting national and state legislation that fights discrimination and advocates for just and equal treatment.

Creating more opportunities for underrepresented groups.

  • Establishing new partnerships with organizations driving systemic change, primarily in the areas of social injustice, economic empowerment and wealth development.
  • Continue partnering with Operation HOPE to uplift underrepresented communities by supporting business literacy and coaching to equip them with the financial knowledge and tools to create a secure future.
  • Ongoing advocacy for education, including our partnership with Atlanta Public Schools focused on improving literacy and essential reading skills.

Stepping up inclusion training at every level of the company.

  • Revamping our inclusion-training strategy to be available in alternative and ongoing virtual forms for all leaders and employees.

Supporting our Black business partners.

  • Generating wealth in the Black community by further diversifying our Supply Chain and doubling our spending with Black-owned businesses by 2025, while seeking diverse business partners for Delta’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.
  • Requiring each bidding and request-for-proposal process for new partnerships to include participation from minority-owned businesses, while introducing micro-development programs to identify and grow diverse businesses in underrepresented areas of our supply chain.
  • Evaluating every Delta contract to ensure suppliers are held accountable for anti-racist policies within their organizations.

This list is just the beginning. In fact, with your continued input, it will grow in the months and years ahead. A famous quote often cited by the late Rep. John Lewis comes to mind: “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

It is my personal responsibility to leverage my influence and privilege as your CEO to be your strongest advocate for equity and justice. I’ll be holding each leader accountable for their own performance. And all Delta people are expected to live our shared values, outlined in the Rules of the Road, on and off the clock.

This commitment is important, but it won’t mean anything until it has an impact on all aspects of our personal and professional lives – at our airports, in our breakrooms and offices, on the ramp, in our hangars, on our planes, and in our cities, neighborhoods, schools and homes.

We will talk in more detail about our action plan Wednesday during a Town Hall I will host with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms – I hope you can join us live or watch the replay.

Thank you for trusting me with this responsibility and for the role that each of you plays in bringing our values to life. In this time of crisis, I have never been more proud to be part of the Delta family.