BA to review uniform policy after outcry over crucifix
London: British Airways paved the way on Friday for a climbdown over its refusal to allow a Christian worker to wear a crucifix over her uniform.
The airline bowed to the threat of a boycott by consumers and condemnation from politicians and churchmen by announcing a review of its uniform policy.
The move came hours after Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, threatening to withdraw the Church of England's Â£10.25 million investment in BA.
It was a blow for Willie Walsh, the airline's chief executive, who had staked his authority on insisting that Nadia Eweida, a check-in worker, keep to its rules. While defending the policy as consistent with industry standards and non-discriminatory, he signalled that the outcry had swayed BA.
"It has become clear that the policy will need to change in the light of the debate," he said. One option would be to let staff wear religious symbols as lapel badges.
Miss Eweida, 55, whose second appeal against the ban is due next week, welcomed the announcement but declined to be drawn on the lapel badge compromise. She remains on unpaid leave.
"My reaction is that it is high time this happened, but I would like to have this vetted by my barrister," she said. Announcing the climbdown, Walsh said: "The review will examine ways in which our policy will be adapted to allow symbols of faith to be worn openly while remaining consistent with the brand and compliant with legislation.
" Clearly stung by some of the criticism, he added: "I am proud to lead an airline that has a track record on diversity and inclusion which is second to none." He said BA had been unfairly accused of being anti-Christian.
"British Airways is proud of its uniform and proud of the diversity of its staff."