United Employees, meet your new sensitivity trainers: Special Olympics athletes from around the country.
CEO Oscar Munoz says the airline is on a mission to fuse this charitable sponsorship with inclusion. He wants to hire more people with special needs and also bring them in to lead HR training.
The initiative? Coming after a tough PR year for the company in 2017 after a Kentucky doctor was dragged from a United flight last year prompting massive backlash against the airline.
"The things of the past? You learn from them. React quickly, and you move forward," Munoz said. "That was a galvanizing moment as horrible as it was, we’re learning from that and we made a lot of positive moves since then."
Bree Bogucki, a track and cross country athlete with autism is leading the charge, says she wants United Gate agents, for example to look beyond physical traits, and understand her stress while traveling.
To be able to help the employees, show them like, the different scenarios, it’s very like fast-paced," Bree said. "You got to get your airline, you got to get your ticket, you’ve got to go when they call your number."
Munoz said he was sympathetic.
"These invisible disabilities can be difficult to discern and that’s why we’re gonna use people like Bree, and a lot of the expertise within Special Olympics," he said.
This sensitivity training will start right away and Bree, from Palatine? She’s already toured the highest level offices at Willis Tower and she will be schooling the big-time executives in Chicago and other major cities.