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Six Steps to Support your LGBTQ+ Travellers


Sexual orientation and gender identity goes beyond travel policies and programmes. It is an organisation’s Duty of Care to adequately prepare its workforce for foreseeable health and travel security risks, including the specific risks faced by members of their LGBTQ+ workforce. 

With this in mind, how can you make sure that your LGBTQ+ staff will be suitably supported when away, and that your diversity policy will be upheld? Is it safe to be open about sexual orientation in a particular destination? Is this a subject that you are empowered to support? The risks faced by your LGBTQ+ workforce may vary based on the destinations to which they travel, and may be influenced by factors including the legal status and levels of social tolerance of LGBTQ+ self-identification and relationships.

Like any personal characteristic, sexual orientation and gender identity are part of your personeel's risk profiles. To protect your people, it is important to understand the profile-specific risks and put in place processes to mitigate them. Here are six steps that organisations can follow to create a mobile workforce inclusive of all orientations, without exposing travellers to unnecessary risk:

1. Understand the challenges

In certain countries, same sex activities are illegal, which can put your LGBTQ+ staff at risk of harassment by the authorities. An absence of anti-discrimination laws might also result in refusal of accommodation based on self-identification of sexual orientation or profile of the same-sex travel companions. Transgender and people-in-transition face extra challenges, such as possibly being denied access to gender-assigned services and/or facilities. On top of the legal barriers, there are some factors organisations need to be aware of, such as: societal attitudes, hate crime rates, and recent protests against advancements in legal equality.

2. Include LGBTQ+-specific considerations in your mobility policies

Factor in destination-specific challenges when providing travellers with options for suitable logistics – transport and lodging, Take into account any immigration considerations that might have an impact. Allow for travellers to opt out or refuse a trip or an assignment without repercussions if they do not feel comfortable with the destination. At all times, preserve the right to anonymity. 

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3. Offer tailored, realistic and inclusive support
Be ready to provide LGBTQ+ travellers with confidential access to information and advice pre-departure. It is also essential that organisations provide employees with a 24/7 support system that they can rely upon before, during and after their trip. Not all employees may be comfortable openly disclosing their LBGTQ+ status with their employer. 

4. Educate managers and all employees
Ensure everyone involved with travel within your organisation is well-trained on how to support LGBTQ+ colleagues. All travellers and employees need to be informed about how their actions could inadvertently increase the risks faced by their LGBTQ+ peers. For example, in some destinations, showing support of a LGBTQ+ colleague could put both persons at risk. Incorporate scenarios about awareness of all profiles into your travel training and crisis management planning, so that your travellers and managers are prepared while travelling or on assignment. 

5. Establish emergency points of contact for your LGBTQ+ staff 
Ensure everyone involved with travel within your company is well-trained on how to support LGBTQ+ colleagues. If an emergency occurs, it is important that your LGBTQ+ staff have a primary point of contact who knows how to assist in case of an emergency. Local staff members need to be able to assist efficiently.

6. Have contingency travel plans
If the worst should happen, despite all your efforts in preventing any unwanted situation, make sure you have in place a clear contingency plan that allows you to evacuate your staff promptly.