Ginger Hardage

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Former SVP of Culture & Communications at Southwest Airlines, Founder of Unstoppable Cultures, and Global Board Chair, Ronald McDonald House Charities

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    Ginger Hardage: Biography at a Glance

    • At Southwest, Ginger led a team of 150 people responsible for building and sustaining the organization's legendary culture and communications enterprise. 
    • She is recognized by many as a foremost global authority on building and sustaining organizational culture, earning Southwest 23 consecutive years on FORTUNE's "Top 10 Most Admired Companies in the World" list. 
    • In 2017, Ginger launched Unstoppable Cultures, a brand designed to help organizations create and sustain cultures of enduring greatness
    • In 2021, she was named Chair of the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
    • Ginger was inducted into the Public Relations Hall of Fame in 2015, received the Legacy Award from the Plank Center for Leadership in 2016, and was selected for the James C. Bowling Executive-In-Residence Lecture Series at the University of Kentucky.
    • She also received countless awards and honors including the PRWeek Top 50 Power list, PRWeek 50 Most Powerful Women in Public Relations, Texas' Most Powerful and Influential Women, and "Legendary Communicator" by Southern Methodist University.

    Videos

    Biography

    Ginger Hardage retired as Senior Vice President of Culture and Communications at Southwest Airlines after an illustrious 25 years, where she served as a member of the CEO's executive leadership team.  At Southwest, Ginger led a team of 150 people responsible for building and sustaining the organization's legendary culture and communications enterprise.

    In 2017, Ginger launched Unstoppable Cultures, a brand designed to help organizations create and sustain cultures of enduring greatness. 

    Recognized by many as a foremost global authority on building and sustaining organizational culture, Ginger was responsible for the activities at Southwest that nourished the culture and the internal and external communications function. Ginger was a tireless ambassador of the world-famous Southwest Culture, leading to honors such as being a perpetual standout on FORTUNE’s “Most Admired Companies in the World” list. She helped champion the values, purpose and “Best Place to Work” initiatives at the nation’s largest airline. 

    Upon her retirement, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said “Ginger has made countless contributions to Southwest. She has been an invaluable business partner, advisor, and mentor. She brings constant, positive energy and enthusiasm to all those around her, and that is infectious. She has built superb teams that we are very proud of, and that I know will continue her special brand of excellence."

    Ginger has received numerous honors throughout her career, including induction into the Public Relations Hall of Fame, being named as one of Texas’ Most Powerful and Influential Women, and receiving the prestigious Larry Foster Award for Integrity in Public Communication 

    from the Arthur W. Page Society. PRWeek has named her multiple times to its Top 50 Power list and 50 Most Powerful Women in Public Relations.  She was named “Legendary Communicator” by Southern Methodist University, Legacy Award honoree by the Plank Center for Leadership, and selected for the James C. Bowling Executive-In-Residence Lecture Series at the University of Kentucky. 

    Ginger currently serves as Global Chairman of the Board for Ronald McDonald House Charities.  In Dallas, she serves on the board of The Trinity Park Conservancy and was a past president of the Trinity Commons Foundation. Ginger previously served on advisory boards of Novartis in Basel, Switzerland; The Page Society; Business Civic Leadership Center, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Big Brothers and Sisters of Metropolitan Dallas; Southwest Cares; and the Council of Public Relations Firms. 

    Before beginning her career at Southwest Airlines in 1990, Ginger held a variety of marketing and public relations positions at Maxus Energy Corporation, Diamond Shamrock Corporation, and Life Insurance Company of the Southwest.

    Ginger earned a B.A. in advertising/public relations from Texas Tech University and was recognized as an outstanding alumna by the College of Mass Communications at Texas Tech University. 

    Ginger lives in Dallas, TX and Santa Fe, NM with her husband, Kelly.

    Topics

    Attract + Engage + Retain: Winning the Talent Wararrow-down

    An organization is only as strong as its people — and that’s why winning the war to attract, engage, and retain top talent is so crucial to organizational success. With a 96% employee retention rate and decades on multiple lists as a Top Employer, Southwest Airlines has been a standout Employer Brand since before the creation of that buzz phrase. And now former Chief Culture & Communications Officer, Ginger Hardage, is pulling back the curtain on how Southwest attracts, engages, and retains their extraordinary (and extraordinarily loyal) workforce. In this keynote from Ginger, you will glean the timeless strategies that have led to Southwest’s acclaimed success in the people arena, stay current on other top strategies from leading companies, and learn how to apply them to your own organization.

    Fives Lies About Corporate Culturearrow-down

    When considering organizational culture, some universal lies tend to rise to the surface. In the back of our minds, we have little voices telling us that we can’t change the culture of our companies and teams. Maybe for you, that’s the idea that culture is fluffy, you can’t afford culture, or that if you empower your employees, you might lose control. But, none of those are true!

    In Ginger’s signature keynote, she walks through the five lies people tell about why they can’t affect culture and reveals the counteracting truths that allow companies to build Unstoppable Cultures in their own organizations. You already have a culture – will that culture happen by default or will you define it? When you stop believing lies and start living by the truth, your culture flourishes… your employees stick around longer and people achieve more than they ever thought possible. In short, if a leader creates culture intentionally, that organization becomes unstoppable.

    Unstoppable Cultures: Creating and Sustaining Organizations of Enduring Greatnessarrow-down

    Every company has a culture. For some, it's a culture of innovation - new, never been done before ideas. For others, it's fun (birthday cakes and costumes are often involved). For some, it’s toxicity and gossip. There are cultures that celebrate loyalty, hard work, or profit above all else. There are cultures that are both intentional and accidental. There are cultures that draw people in and ones that drive people away. There are cultures that detract from the mission of the organization, cultures that must be overcome or compensated for, cultures that derail or dead end. Surely, you can resonate with at least one of those descriptions.

    But then, there are cultures that are unstoppable. Unstoppable Cultures put people first, are consistent in nurturing their culture through systems, and are relentless in storytelling. In this signature talk from Ginger, she will walk you through these critical characteristics of unstoppable cultures. You will undoubtedly leave with both practical and inspiring ideas on how to begin the journey of building the culture you always dreamed of for your organization.
     

    Building a Brand from the Inside Outarrow-down

    What do you think about when you think about a brand? A logo? A website? A stock symbol? Maybe. But these are just expressions of a brand; they are not what brings a brand to life. So if not these elements, what is the most important thing when we think about our brands? Ginger has a simple answer - people.

    In this inspiring talk, Ginger discusses why employee engagement is the single most important element when any of us are thinking about our brands. She knows that the way an organization behaves on the inside will find its way to the outside, and that the true character of any company is expressed by its people. In “Building a Brand from the Inside Out,” learn from this 25-year Southwest Airlines veteran about creating an “employee first” culture where employees are engaged, act like owners, and are connected to their organization’s purpose.
     

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