By Yvette Bryant, Senior Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion at BCD Travel
Increasingly diverse workforces mean more business travelers with unique needs and preferences. As travel managers create or evolve travel programs, they should consider how to better represent and respect diversity so business travelers from all backgrounds feel supported and included.
4 tips to get started
It is imperative to understand the current state of the travel policy from a DE&I perspective across all ranks in the organization – what’s working, what could be improved, and what’s needed but not currently provided. If your organization has a corporate DE&I program, leverage it for travel. For example, diversity councils or inclusion groups, formed by members and allies of a particular community – women, people with disabilities, or LGBTQ+, for example – create awareness and provide solutions for the challenges they face. More than anyone else, they know what they need to thrive, and can be valuable feedback channels for changes you may seek to make.
Partner with HR to make DE&I a travel program priority.
The most successful travel programs make business trips easy, productive, and safe. Successful HR departments focus on employee engagement and promoting well-being. Both are essential to a company’s ability to grow and innovate. Engage your HR teams to find out what the employees are saying about DE&I and to implement strategies developed from your feedback channels that address current gaps and ultimately increase employee engagement and satisfaction. A well-designed travel policy will contribute to an attractive employment package, which will help HR recruit and retain loyal, engaged, and productive employees.
Provide duty of care for a diverse workforce.
Companies must look after the safety and well-being of all travelers, but certain diversity dimensions such as traveler race and ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, and accessibility for travelers with disabilities may require special consideration:
- Understand if there are heightened risks for diverse employees. Will ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation increase an employee’s chances of being targeted in certain countries?
- Ensure accessible options for travelers with disabilities during trips and at the destination.
- Inform company leaders about potential risks and duty of care responsibilities.
- Educate employees about risks and precautions as well as available resources.
- Make it easy for travelers to communicate with your company about concerns or incidents.
- Create and test a plan of response to handle incidents.
Promote cultural awareness.
When people are well-informed, they’re better able to make smart decisions that keep them safe and comfortable. Help your travelers familiarize themselves with social norms in foreign countries – for example, by creating handy destination guides.