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How Southwest Airlines Leverages Culture to Build Reputation

April 18, 2012

Last week Elliot Schreiber, the executive director of the Center for Corporate Reputation Management welcomed Southwest Airlines’ Ginger Hardage to the Union League where she discussed “How Southwest Airlines Leverages Culture to Build Reputation.” As the senior vice president of culture and communication at Southwest, Hardage discussed the company’s points of differentiation as it continues to be named a top business leader in areas of customer satisfaction, among not only airlines but companies worldwide.  

In her lighthearted and informative session, she credits Southwest’s success to this:

“We have built our brand from the inside out with our employees,” says Hardage, who has worked for Southwest since 1990. “Our brand was not created on Madison Avenue. Among all of the airlines we have the fewest customer complaints that are recorded by the Department of Transportation, and we are proud to say that we have never experienced a layoff. We always put our employees first and they, in turn, take care of customers.”

Hardage divided her presentation into four areas:

  1. We put people first.
  2. We treat customers like family.
  3. We nurture our culture.
  4. We try to change ahead of the times.

Through her many examples, Hardage illustrated how Southwest stays close to its mission, and how “we are a customer service company... we happen to just fly planes... We want to make travel fun, and we make memories for our customers.”

She also discussed the new merger with Air Trans Airlines and some of the steps that Southwest has taken to welcome and acclimate the new employees to Southwest’s culture.

Click here to watch the recorded presentation.


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