Delta’s ESG Report: Powering purpose-driven goals to be a catalyst for change

The launch of Delta’s inaugural ESG report is a pivotal moment in the company’s commitment to being purpose-driven and highlights its intention to be a catalyst for global change, from its Board of Directors to its front-line employees. As a company that connects people with opportunity, Delta recognizes its role in growing empathy, respect and care for the planet and the people within it.

“Over the past year, we have taken on bold commitments to be a driver of change for diversity, equity & inclusion and environmental sustainability, within our industry and beyond,” said Tim Mapes, Delta’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer. “Neither of these come with an easy solution and will take time and resources to drive real impact, which is why we must be transparent about the progress we make.”

The 2020 ESG Report is a snapshot of Delta’s environmental, social and governance progress covering the period from January 1 to December 31 and takes a detailed look at important areas like health and safety, climate change, and human capital management, including diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as the governance framework we have in place with respect to each of them. The report was informed by the reporting standards of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, and future iterations of the report will continue to build on ESG content and analysis.

Health and Safety Above All Else

In 2020, Delta stood fast in its people-first approach by prioritizing health and safety above all else. Empowering its people to lead with safety contributed to very-low injury rates. It also introduced the Delta CareStandard,  Delta’s policy for keeping flights safe and clean throughout the travel journey, and partnered with industry-leading experts to create a safer, cleaner, and more flexible travel experience. It introduced partnerships with Lysol and the Mayo Clinic and instituted operational safety practices, like mask mandates and temporary middle seat blocking. Through these agile, innovative and strategic decisions, it helped the world define a way to travel during a global pandemic.

Delta also rapidly responded to protect the health of employees, offering an extensive COVID-19 testing program that was developed in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic for full-time employees and available at all major stations and through at-home testing kits. It launched the Delta Care App, a simple self-assessment tool to help employees check for symptoms each day before work. Through contact-tracing teams for all employee COVID-19 cases, the company was able to share workplace transmission data with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration in accordance with state-specific reporting requirements.

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These efforts earned Delta a hospital-grade “Diamond” rating from Airline Passenger Experience Association and SimpliFlying, the highest of the three-tiered certification for the airline cleanliness award. Delta also received top Net Promoter Score marks around customer service and cleanliness satisfaction, thanks to the company’s relentless focus on health and safety practices. Finally, Delta was named the No. 1 airline by corporate travel professionals in the annual Business Travel News Airline Survey for the 10th year in a row, citing the airline’s pandemic response as one of the award-winning factors.                                                                                  

Protecting the Environment                                                                              

In February 2020, Delta committed to becoming the first carbon neutral airline on a global basis. While the pandemic created a historic period of financial hardship for the airline, the company remains committed to this plan – which takes immediate action against climate change while pursuing long-term investments to address aviation emissions.

In the short term, Delta is addressing emissions through fleet and operational efficiencies and offsetting the remaining emissions through carbon offset project investments, such as those that maintain and protect forests. Delta has committed more than $30 million for a portfolio of verified offsets to address 13 million metric tons of the airline’s emissions from the period of March to December 2020. In the medium term, Delta has a goal to use 10 percent sustainable aviation fuel by the end of 2030, and longer term, Delta aims to decrease its reliance on offsets as it invests in technology solutions to further reduce carbon emissions.

Delta’s environmental sustainability vision is rooted in three areas of focus: carbon reductions and removals, stakeholder engagement and coalition building. Through a combined focus in these areas, Delta is becoming carbon neutral so that its customers will not have to choose between seeing the world and saving it.                               

Empathy, Respect and Care for All

To truly be a connector, Delta recognizes that it must work to build greater understanding, empathy and respect for humanity. This means actively seeking diversity, boldly pursuing equity and consciously promoting inclusion.

In 2020, Delta committed to closing the gap on representation at all levels of the business by increasing leader diversity to better reflect the total population of its employee base and double the percentage of Black officers and director-level employees by 2025. This includes actively measuring Delta’s progress and transparently reporting out results.

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Delta shared a multi-layer action plan to become an anti-racist organization, driven by commitments from Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian. This includes addressing inequity in terms of the company’s talent strategy, community engagement, inclusion training and new strategies to support Black and minority-owned businesses. For example, the airline delivered ongoing advocacy for education by enhancing its partnership with Atlanta Public Schools to focus on leadership, innovation and technology – a project spearheaded by BOLD, Delta’s Black Business Resource Group.

Delta also worked to build allyship and an antiracist culture by lobbying for Georgia’s Hate Crime Bill and Minnesota police reform legislation and held virtual employee Town Halls with influential leaders to continue to build understanding about racial justice.                                                    

Despite a challenging financial outlook, Delta and The Delta Air Lines Foundation contributed approximately $32 million to communities in 2020. As it moves toward recovery, the company looks forward to continuing its commitment to investing 1 percent of the previous year’s net income in its communities.

Data that gives a recap of Delta's 2020 ESG Report
Data that gives a recap of Delta's 2020 ESG Report

Forward Looking Statements

Statements made in this release that are not historical facts, including statements regarding our estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections, goals, aspirations, commitments or strategies for the future, should be considered “forward-looking statements” under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are not guarantees or promised outcomes and should not be construed as such. All forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections, goals, aspirations, commitments and strategies reflected in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020. Caution should be taken not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements, which represent our views only as of the date of this release, and which we undertake no obligation to update except to the extent required by law.


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