Protecting a Diverse Mobile Workforce

diverse workforce

With the rapid growth of business travellers and expatriates, many organisations are finding it challenging to manage the travel safety, health and security of their workers. The growth also changes the diverse composition of a mobile workforce and the risks associated.  A responsible employer will understand that they have a moral imperative to protect their employees from harm, no matter where they work. The appropriate travel healthcare and safety support should ideally consist of three components:


  • assessing risk
  • providing appropriate advice on prevention measures
  • responsive assistance 

Implementing these components into an organisation’s overall travel risk management programme is pivotal for maintaining sufficient legal standards, ensuring a high standard of Duty of Care and mitigating risk. Whether you have a programme in place, planning to implement one or are just beginning to create one, we strongly recommend evaluating the needs of your mobile workforce to ensure you cater to their specific risks. 

A few important perspectives to consider are traveller ethnicity, gender, age, and sexuality.

Women

Diverse Workforce Woman
More women are travelling for business than ever before. Therefore, it is important to consider the varying cultural, legal, health and social challenges they could face and how to effectively mitigate any risks.

There are some ‘golden rules’ that female business travellers are advised to follow when undertaking business travel to any region:

  • understand the additional vulnerabilities of your profile
  • research your destination before your trip
  • be a ‘hard target’
  • remain calm but vigilant

When arranging transportation from the airport, agree in advance a sure way to verify the identity of your greeter, such as a placard showing only your first name and the greeter reciting your full name and hotel before proceeding. For solo female travellers, transport within cities should be conducted with either a dedicated driver arranged through a reputable company, or taxis arranged through hotels and other such facilities; always sit in the back seat.

In addition, it is recommended to arrive at your destination during daylight hours. If arriving at night, request to be escorted by hotel staff to your room, and do not hesitate to change rooms if there are any issues with door locks or other security features. Request a room near the lift lobby and on the third floor or above, or on the women-only floor if the hotel offers that. Bring a door wedge with you to add your own additional layer of door security.

LGBT Travellers

lgbt diverse workforce

Organisations that attempt to manage staff members’ risk exposure because of their sexual orientation or gender identity can blur the distinction between an individual’s work life and private life.  While some characteristics may be immediately apparent, such as a person’s ethnicity, this is not the case for sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Particularly in countries where the risk of being targeted in homophobic attacks is higher, LGBT staff members should exercise heightened awareness of and vigilance towards their surroundings, including being conscious of possible signs of being followed. They should avoid routines and actions that could allow prospective attackers to track daily movements, and choose accommodation at hotels accredited for their appropriateness to the prevailing security environment.

According to Stonewall, there are 73 countries where same-sex activities are illegal with even ten countries where it is punishable by death. (http://www.stonewall.org.uk/media/lgbt-facts-and-figures). Being diligent about researching the anti-LGBT legislation in the visiting country is critical. 


In Summary

It is important to consider the composition of an organisations’ mobile workforce to individually asses the possible risks. Adequate preparation and education, addressing the unique needs and risk exposure of mobile workers, is an important risk-mitigation step.

We recommend considering the following steps in order to fully understand the potential risks of your mobile workforce:

  • Review the profile of your mobile workers
  • Educate your company on the risks, especially to your management community
  • Keep your people abreast of risks as they evolve
  • Put in place a response mechanism to handle any incidents

 To download the IOSH guide on managing the safety, health and security of mobile workers, click here.


Authored by:

Robert Walker, Head of Information and Analysis at International SOS and Control Risks