American Airlines (AA), based out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), made history this month as the number one faith-friendly workplace among Fortune 500 companies in the nation. The airline clinched the top spot via the 2022 Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Index, and the AA Interfaith Family was honored at a gala at the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation’s (RFBF) 3rd annual Faith@Work ERG Conference in Washington D.C. on May 23 – 25.
This annual event focuses on Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and chaplains that are blazing trails within corporate America. The Conference brings these groups and employees together so they can interact and share strategies and Best Practices, with the goal of improving and expanding interfaith programs across the nation and the globe.
The REDI Index is designed to examine diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives among the top companies in America and has become the most thorough and comprehensive report about religious inclusion among U.S. and world corporation workplaces.
This is the first year that the RFBF has looked at Fortune 500 companies. The analysis for the inaugural year considered only Fortune 100 corporations, and the second annual index analyzed Fortune 200 businesses. In this third year, all corporate diversity policies and websites for those on the Fortune 500 list were examined.
Findings from the Index show that employees who are religious feel that they have an “official voice” at work via ERGs that are company-sponsored and are led by fellow employees. Having a place to practice religious rituals while at work often leads to higher job satisfaction and employee retention.
American Airlines allows employee-led faith gatherings, hosts interfaith events, encourages community outreach partnerships, and provides Prayer Rooms and ablution stations on its campus, as well as the use of Holy texts from all faith expressions in these spaces.
One of the trailblazers in this "faith in the workplace" movement at American Airlines is Anglican Priest Father Greg McBrayer. Father Greg has worked as a Chief Flight Controller at American’s Integrated Operations Control Center for over four decades. He has been leading the charge as a pioneer in the advancement of faith in the corporate world for more than 20 years. Father Greg was instrumental in getting prayer rooms and ablution stations into the plans for the new Headquarters Campus of American Airlines.
“You just cannot compartmentalize the things that are your core values, and if you’re a person of faith, that’s going to include your faith. That’s the core of everything I bring into my workday. As a Christian, I’m going to do the very best I can for God every day. And people in corporate America want that,” said McBrayer.
American also hosts quarterly events they call “Abraham’s Tent,” since Abraham is a central figure in the Holy texts of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. These meetings encourage employees from different religious beliefs to gather and discuss the differences and similarities of their faith traditions. These gatherings help foster understanding and bring down silos of misunderstanding for people of different faiths or those of no faith.
The airline also respects religious beliefs about things like the COVID-19 vaccines. While employee exemption applications were reviewed carefully, American never fired or laid-off workers who did not receive the vaccines due to religious beliefs.
American was represented at the Conference by Rev. McBrayer, Executive Leadership, DEI Leaders and Global Leads from numerous ERG faith groups at American Airlines.
“This recognition has been a labor of love for me personally. The work began many years ago following the tragic impact 911 had on my life and our industry. It was out of the ashes of that life-altering event that God redirected the flight plan for my life and ministry. I feel blessed to have been used by God to bring voice and visibility to the importance of being able to bring your whole self to work.
"I have to thank American Airlines for providing the support our faith-based EBRG (Employee Business Resource Groups) need to bring about healthy change. I thank the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation for hosting this annual conference, which now has the world’s largest corporations gathering together to learn from one another, but most of all I thank God.
"This movement is reshaping the landscape of corporate America and the entire world. I feel blessed to have been on the frontline and to have been part of it all,” McBrayer said about the honor.
Looking back on the unusual development of his career, McBrayer said, “The greatest reward I get is getting up every morning and getting to say, ‘you know what, God is going to use me today at American Airlines to do Kingdom work.”
For more information on American Airlines' Interfaith Ministry, visit http://www.dfwairportchapel.org/.