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19 Apr 2017

BY Jennifer Morris


Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd launches 'cruise industry first' transgender policy

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) has launched what is believed to be the cruise industry’s first Transgender Transformation at Work policy, along with a host of other initiatives championing diversity.


Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd unveils 'Transgender Transformation At Work' programme

Grant Van Ulbrich (pictured) became director, diversity and inclusion at Royal Caribbean Cruises (the parent company of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises) a year ago, after making a case for creating the role to RCCL human resources boss Paul Parker and Royal Caribbean International president and chief executive Michael Bayley.


Van Ulbrich, who previously held the role of associate vice-president onboard revenue and sales with RCI, has implemented a number of initiatives focused on diversity. “The enterprise puts funding behind diversity, which many do not,” he told TTG. “And that includes funding for the employee resource groups (ERGs) we’ve implemented for diversity. The ERGs launched for North America already have more than 550 members.”


“Since I came into the role the word’s been getting out to the fleet and more crew members have been coming out”


Van Ulbrich was also the driving force behind RCCL’s Executive Diversity Council, which launched in June 2016. It is formed of 10 senior vice presidents – five women and five men – and they are the governing body for diversity and inclusion across the brands.


For the new Transgender Transformation at Work policy, Van Ulbrich liaised with the government of Queensland, Australia, and the transgender research centre at Michigan State University, to identify educational resources and structure.


“Since I came into the role the word’s been getting out to the fleet and more crew members have been coming out,” he said. “We now know there are at least 27 transgender crewmembers working across the brands.”


The policy is formed of a 20-page guide covering three areas. The first is for the transgender employees themselves, including helping them “understand what their responsibilities are” in terms of educating their teammates and providing advice on how to fill out documentation.


The second section is targeted at the people managing the employee. The policy provides education on the proper pronouns to use, and how to foster openness. “The final section talks about the co-worker, and getting it right,” Van Ulbrich said.


“We’ve issued the policies to the ships of the 27 people [at sea and on land] we know about, and they have been very proactive.” RCCL is poised to now launch the policy across all of its human resources. Elsewhere, the company has this month rolled out a Global Unconscious Bias and Workplace Mitigation programme and is introducing an e-learning platform.

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