US Airways touts diversity to LGBT group

US Airways vice president Suzanne Boda at the Independence Business Alliance.
US Airways vice president Suzanne Boda at the Independence Business Alliance. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 22, 2013

A US Airways executive told the Independence Business Alliance on Monday that Philadelphia's largest airline was pursuing and seriously committed to diversity in its workforce.

Suzanne Boda, one of the three highest-ranking women at US Airways and the executive overseeing the airline's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employee group - called Spectrum - said that from chief executive officer Doug Parker down, US Airways was "proud of our commitment to diversity and inclusion. It's part of our corporate fabric and the culture of who we are."

She also reiterated the airline's commitment to Philadelphia as a hub airport in its merger with American Airlines, expected to win regulatory approval by Sept. 30.

Boda, based in Philadelphia and senior vice president in charge of US Airways' international and cargo operations, spoke at the annual luncheon of the Philadelphia area's LGBT chamber of commerce at the Sofitel Hotel.

Since 2005, Boda said, US Airways has fostered 11 business resource, or employee, groups geared to ethnic, race, gender, and religious and other interests and affiliations among its 32,000 employees. The aim is to expand camaraderie among workers and networking in communities, provide education, awareness and professional growth, and assist US Airways' recruitment and retention programs.

"The groups have become a very important part of our culture and helped to build a sense of community among our employees," she said.

Boda came to US Airways, and Philadelphia, in January 2008 after 25 years at Northwest Airlines. With a team that includes Bob Ciminelli, who runs the Philadelphia hub operation, the airline has established a satellite headquarters at Philadelphia International Airport.

"Philadelphia is a very, very important hub for us in our system," Boda said. "If you look at our route network, 34 percent of all US Airways flights pass through Philadelphia."

Boda also oversees the airline's professional women's network group. She lives in Center City, and she and her husband also have a home in Phoenix and "a little ski place in Colorado."

US Airways' LGBT employee group has chapters in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Charlotte and Winston-Salem, N.C., and about 270 members, she said. The group sponsors and participates in community events in hub cities, such as PrideDay, the LGBT parade and festival in June in Philadelphia, and "OutFest," a national coming-out-day event, in October.

Parker spoke to the audience via video, saying US Airways holds itself "accountable for creating and maintaining an atmosphere" where employees and customers are treated fairly and equitably. "We work very hard to make sure our employees know their voice is heard and their leadership team is listening to, and acting on, their suggestions and concerns," he said. "That includes insuring our workplace is free from harassment of any kind."


Contact Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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