“I have two upcoming flights and before I board, I want to make sure that I am clear on Southwest’s policies regarding nursing onboard. Please let me know SW’s policy regarding the same.”
This is the response the Southwest CSR gave:
“SWA does not have a policy regarding breastfeeding but expects mothers to have the common decency to cover up.”
I informed the CSR that I was shocked and appalled that SWA would take that position and would not do business with a company that expressed those views. I was called back a few minutes later by a supervisor who stated that the statement on SWA’s position was inaccurate and that he should not have said it. She further stated that she would send an e-mail to the 250 CSRs clarifying how that inquiry is to be responded to and send another e-mail up the chain of command.
CSRs are how a company like SWA presents themselves to their customer base. Therefore, it would seem to be a priority that they are thoroughly trained to ensure that they can properly respond to customer inquiries and can accurately express the airline’s positions and policies.”
Moms aren’t chumps.
Negative NIP incidences WILL negatively affect your business. Mothers represent a huge spending demographic. They want to meet the needs of their little ones. Their little ones NEED to have their needs met. An uncomfortable mother that is dealt with negatively has the potential to start a firestorm of bad press and will cause the business to lose clients, profits, and credibility as a result.
If the company had a policy in place, what happened here?
Employees didn’t know about it. If it’s a policy, every employee should know about it, correct? Weak or non-existent policies leave judgments to be made on the spot by employees whose personal feelings may not reflect the stance of the company as a whole. Without investigating complaints, enforcing company protocol, and offering corporate lactation education, repeat offenses are inevitable. Writing a vague sentence on a company website is not going to educate employees.
Southwest plans on strengthening their breastfeeding policy to:
“Southwest welcomes nursing mothers who wish to breastfeed on the aircraft and/or within our facilities.
Southwest Employees should never request that a breastfeeding passenger:
· Cover up or use discretion;
· Stop breastfeeding (unless it’s an emergency situation); or
· Relocate to another area.
If a fellow passenger is uncomfortable with the situation, we should attempt to discreetly move the uncomfortable passenger to another seat.”
About the authors:
Jennifer Pitkin is an IBCLC and the founder of Family Friendly Business Initiative. Jennifer is a current La Leche League Leader, and former WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. Jennifer has a 5 year old daughter, and 3 year old son.
Liz Neighbors is an RN/BSN and an IBCLC. She owns private lactation consultation company, Beyond Baby. Liz is married to an optometrist and amazing breastfeeding advocate. She has three daughters, ages 5, 2 1/2, and 3 months.
Stephanie Harp is civil litigator in Texas. She is the mother of a 14 month old and is soon expecting "the call" from an adoption agency to let her know #2 is on the way.
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