A PEOPLE-FIRST CULTURE: Southwest’s Women Leaders Discuss Creating a Culture Where Everyone Feels Welcomed, Appreciated and Cared For

Jun 15, 2022 | Partner News


It’s no secret that much of Southwest’s success centers on its People-first Culture. Creating an environment where every person feels welcomed, appreciated and cared for is a part of Southwest’s legendary Culture—whether it’s customers, people in the communities they serve or where it all starts, their employees.

For 51 years, Southwest’s Culture has inspired loyalty from employees and customers alike. By investing in the company Culture, Southwest helps employees feel connected and fosters a sense of belonging and pride, which in turn, helps motivate and drive business outcomes. Employees have a sense of ownership, are empowered to be their authentic selves and expected to contribute to its positive Culture.

Colleen C. Barrett has been a driving force and is credited for developing Southwest’s legendary Customer Service, which became the gold standard not only for airlines, but also for many customer-facing companies. Colleen also became the first woman president in the airline industry when she assumed the role in 2001. Her influence on the unique Culture of Southwest since the very beginning is indelible, and she is beloved by the Southwest Family. 

To honor the legacy of Colleen, now President Emeritus of Southwest Airlines, as the company turned 50 last year, they launched the Colleen C. Barrett Institute for Cultural Excellence & Customer Service (CCB Institute) at www.colleenbarrett.com. The goal of the CCB Institute is to provide resources that help others learn from her example as they make their own remarkable impacts in their organizations and our world.

This past spring, the CCB Institute hosted a virtual event, A People-first Culture: Engaging, Developing and Retaining Our Greatest Asset, with a panel of four Southwest Leaders, and we invite you to watch the discussion.

  • Whitney Eichinger, Vice President Culture & Engagement (moderator)
  • Lindsey Lang, Vice President People
  • Kristi Owens, Vice President Talent & Leadership Development
  • Lori Winters, Sr. Director Employee Experience




Want to Learn More?

Mark your calendar for October 12 to experience the Southwest Culture Connection, a unique in-person event on Southwest’s headquarters campus that provides an opportunity to hear Southwest Leaders share takeaways on how to build and maintain a strong company Culture. Tickets are limited so be sure to reserve your ticket early.

Also, as Southwest Airlines celebrates 51 years this week, they’ve released a hard-cover, 200-page book, Leading with Heart: Living & Working the Southwest Way, that represents Southwest’s guide to leadership, business and life based on insight from impactful Southwest Leaders past and present. The book is available to purchase through Southwest® The Store.

Lastly, you’re invited to visit the Colleen C. Barrett Institute, which serves up a wealth of inspiring resources, including books, videos, articles and podcasts from and about Colleen, with insights on Southwest’s unique Culture, and so much more. Save this site as a favorite and return often. You can also opt-in to receive email updates and be informed of future opportunities to engage with the Institute and exclusive CCB Institute events.


Skip to content