British Airways New Uniform Sparks Controversy For Looking ‘Androgynous’

Female British Airways staff find themselves at the center of a heated debate over the airline’s recent uniform overhaul.

The controversy revolves around allegations that the new uniforms, designed for non-binary crew in a bid to “take the airline into the next chapter,” are not only “cheap” but deliberately “androgynous.”

It comes after BA eased fashion rules for men and women and went gender-neutral, allowing male pilots and cabin crews to wear make-up and carry handbags.

Female Staff Are Allegedly ‘Furious’ At British Airways New Uniform

For the first time in over two decades, British Airways decided to give its uniforms a facelift, intending to reflect the evolving landscape of gender inclusivity. 

However, this well-intentioned move has now ruffled feathers among the female employees who feel let down by the allegedly “cheap” and “androgynous” design made for their gender-neutral colleagues.

The new uniform rollout, created by British fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, was intended to mark “a new era” for the company after it relaxed its strict uniform rules and went gender-neutral. It was tested in secret trials before being released, much to the chagrin of the company’s female crew members.

“The whole thing is a mess,” a source told The Sun. “This is an attack on women to satisfy BA’s woke credentials when all they needed to do was produce a dedicated uniform for non-binary and gender fluid crew.”

British Airways Embraced Diversity With Relaxed Uniform Policy

It comes after British Airways granted non-binary and gender-fluid staff the right to wear women’s uniforms in an effort to embrace inclusivity, per the Daily Mail

In an internal memo shared among staff, employees were encouraged to “be bold, be proud, and be yourself” as BA published new rules allowing male pilots to wear make-up and carry handbags.

The company noted that they hoped it would be “embraced by everyone regardless of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, background, culture, sexual identity, or otherwise,” with a spokesperson telling the news outlet that they are fully “committed to an inclusive working environment.”

“We have worked with our people to create updated guidelines for grooming, beauty, and accessories, allowing our colleagues to bring the best, most authentic version of themselves to work every day,” the spokesperson added.

According to The Sun, employees are, however, mandated to wear trousers on routes to the Middle East and Africa to avoid offending culturally sensitive passengers.

British Airways New Uniform Design Was A Painstaking Process

British Airways Sparks Controversy Over 'Androgynous' And 'Cheap' Uniform Design

The airline embarked on this venture not only to refresh its image but also to reflect the evolving values of its diverse workforce, paying keen attention to the creative process behind its new uniform rollout.

The uniform reportedly went through test trials on land and in the air before its release. Several pieces of outdoor clothing were tested in cold showers and freezers at minus 18 degrees Celsius to ensure they were water-resistant, durable, and suitable for extreme weather conditions.

About 1,500 crew members reportedly took part in over 50 workshops to help ensure the garments’ suitability and efficiency.

The uniform design, marked by attention to detail, featured an airwave pattern that was inspired by the movement of air over an aircraft wing. Boateng reportedly simulated several airport roles to understand how the uniform needed to perform for each job and ensure a “modern British, stylish look” with high-quality, resilient fabrics.

British Airways said Boateng took great care in “designing a truly original collection, taking inspiration from the airline, its people of the art of flying” and has been developing the collection since 2018 with “painstaking care.”

BA To Invest £6 Million In Pilot Inclusivity

British Airways Sparks Controversy Over 'Androgynous' And 'Cheap' Uniform Design

In other news, British Airways has committed to spending £6 million ($7.3 million) annually in an ambitious endeavor to enhance diversity within its pilot community, per The Sun

The airline, recognizing the need for greater representation in the cockpit, is set to implement a multifaceted initiative aimed at fostering inclusivity and breaking down barriers in the aviation industry.

The company will fork out £100,000 each to train 60 new applicants a year, who will not need an A-level or a degree and will not have to pay for themselves.

British Airways director of flight ops, Simon Cheadle, underscored the airline’s commitment to reshaping the future of its pilot workforce. “We’re encouraging anyone from lower socio-economic groups to achieve their dream of becoming a pilot,” Cheadle stated.

Hannah Vaughan, a senior first officer at the airline, said, “Funding pilot training opens the job up to anyone. My friends are all talking about it. It’s fantastic we all have this chance.”

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