By Laura Busby, Commercial Director, Good Travel Management
In the big, wide world of global businesses, it's critical that you have the power to send your best talent to get the job done, where it's needed most. Many employees also consider international destinations to be essential to their own professional development.
Supporting and encouraging all staff demographics to take advantage of these opportunities increases job satisfaction and talent engagement. Employees who do not feel supported in this way may seek opportunities elsewhere.
However, different employee demographics (including women, LGBTQ+ groups, and those with disabilities) may face additional challenges when working globally.
In this article, I highlight some of these challenges and offer a step-by-step roadmap to protect and support diverse business travel groups, while prioritizing the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). for employees.
#1 First steps
To embrace the concept of EDI, it is essential to understand its meaning and the importance it has in our workplaces.
While there is a large amount of literature covering this topic, let's look at it succinctly:
Equality in the workplace means providing equal opportunities and ensuring fairness for all employees and job applicants.
Diversity encompasses the broad spectrum of people in a workplace and involves not only recognizing but also appreciating and valuing these differences.
Inclusion involves fostering an inclusive workforce where every individual feels valued and welcomed in their professional environment.
EDI is important when it comes to business travel because we want to know that all employees are treated fairly and have the same opportunities as everyone else. However, with this comes the responsibility of providing support and keeping staff safe during assignments.
And unfortunately, there are still more risks associated with certain demographic groups than others when it comes to travel.
Given these complexities, it is important to have an accessible corporate travel policy, containing essential security information for various travel groups, and compliant with EDI requirements.
ISO 31030 documentation is essential here, as it provides a framework for organizations to develop, implement and continually improve their travel risk management processes. In accordance with their travel risk management guidelines, employers must prepare travelers for travel through effective training and education.
“[…] It is necessary to pay attention to the profile of the traveler in relation to destinations because factors such as race, skills, nationality, cultural identity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, occupation, position, disability or medical history may all be factors affecting the risks associated with travel […]
In short, your company has a duty to effectively communicate to all employees the necessary responsibilities that help them comply with relevant international laws and regulations.
#2 Cultural intelligence and doing business:
Many companies talk about being global companies that are locally relevant. Of course, we travel for business to build better relationships and gain access to other markets; This means that to leverage international scale, we must use cultural intelligence, so that our strategies are locally relevant in each individual market.
To ensure business success and the safety of different employee demographics, we must tailor our travel risk management approach to the unique needs of our company. This means profiling the traveler before international work and the destination, and verifying whether the area is medium-high risk for that person.
It is vital that global employers collect information on potential legal factors for all assignment locations. The best organizations track legal developments and keep information up to date.
For example, in more than half of the world, LGBTQ+ people may not be protected from discrimination by employment law. Very few jurisdictions legally recognize the gender identity of trans people and same-sex sexual acts are criminalized in more than 70 countries. Only a small minority of states recognize same-sex couples.
Even incorrect attire in the workplace can significantly offend other cultures. For example, in India and China, women are expected to wear knee-length skirts and avoid low necklines. In France, it is prohibited to wear niqabs and burqas , and in Sudan, women are not allowed to wear pants.
Once important cultural and legal distinctions have been made, companies must confirm that employees understand the nuances of what is expected of them.
Working with a travel management company here is ideal as they collect and stay up to date with legal and non-legal information from the country and can help your company develop risk management plans in advance of employee travel.
They may also provide employee training, which informs employers and employees about specific locations. Describes the legal, sociocultural and labor situation of different groups in the specified country.
For example, companies like Maiden Voyage offer in-person training workshops to support diverse business travel groups, including women, disabled travelers, and LGBTQ+ business travelers from other companies.
Providing training like these means that all companies have adequate support and accurate information about assignment destinations for their employees before they travel.
We believe it is essential to create a community spirit among travel management companies, so that everyone is safe when traveling. The more we do this, the less likely it will be that incidents will occur abroad, and we consider this very important.
We've even created our own city guides that our users can access through our Tripism customer portal. These offer advice on popular business travel destinations, from where to stay to the safest areas and the rules and regulations travelers should know.
#3 Security upon arrival
Once employees have arrived at their destinations, it is important to pay attention to the safety of their environment.
Make sure your travel policy makes clear what is expected of them in terms of increasing their safety abroad. For example, you may want to highlight the expectation that employees take taxis late at night, rather than walking alone in the dark.
This is where one of the main benefits of using a travel management company to support your business can be particularly helpful, as they provide 24/7 emergency assistance to your employees if they run into difficulties once they arrive. arrive at your location.
Safety tips are also needed when working abroad, to keep staff safe, while away from work premises or if they extend their trip for bleisure.
For example, staff could be encouraged to use only authorized taxis and to carry copies of their passport, the front and back of their credit, debit and prepaid ATM cards, and other travel documents. Keeping one set of copies in your luggage and another in your jacket means that if any documents are stolen, you can take the copy to your local embassy.
Stories about poor hotel security have been rife this year, with examples including former X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan revealing she was raped by a hotel bouncer while competing on the ITV talent show in 2012. .
Now, more than ever, it is necessary to check that hotels are meeting safety requirements for all employees. For example, hotels that prioritize guest safety know that when someone checks in, they should be given their room details discreetly and that the hotel reception should not say their room number out loud, so details can be overlooked.
Employees should be informed that if this happens, they have the right to request a different room from the hotel.
Wherever possible, women traveling alone or vulnerable should not check into rooms located on the ground floor or at the end of a hallway. Other important security features to consider are double locking, hotel door entry systems that only allow guests entry, and on-site parking available.
Protecting employees during international travel is an imperative duty of any responsible organization. The potential risks and challenges associated with traveling abroad are multifaceted. It is vital to implement a strong travel safety policy, provide comprehensive training, and maintain clear lines of communication.
Additional safety tips for “off-the-clock” activities show employees that you truly care about their health and well-being and not just the company's bottom line. In addition to meeting your moral and legal obligations, you are helping to foster a more loyal, productive and engaged workforce overall.