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New survey highlights the need for companies to provide more support for LGBTQIA+ travelers

LGBTQIA+

Survey by World Travel Protection shows North American LGBTQIA+ business travelers face safety concerns, urging firms to bolster travel support and inclusivity.

NEW YORK – A new survey commissioned by World Travel Protection – a global leader in travel risk management – of North American business travelers sheds light on some of the safety threats and challenges often experienced by employees who identify as LGBTQIA+ amidst the rise of violence against the community, as well as anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation and discrimination both at home and globally.

As we celebrate and recognize our LGBTQIA+ co-workers during Pride month, World Travel Protection is highlighting the actionable steps all companies can take to support LGBTQIA+ employees and keep them safe while traveling.

Business travelers are concerned about visiting regions known to be biased against members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

A majority of business travelers (64% US, CAN 56%) express concern about traveling to a region, state, or province known to be biased against or to criminalize relationships of people who identify as homosexual or transgender.  More than 70 countries criminalize same-sex relationships.

“We are seeing an increased backlash against the LGBTQIA+ community in many parts of the world, including here in North America, resulting in rising concerns about visiting certain regions that are unwelcoming or hostile toward the LGBTQIA+ community or that have discriminatory laws,” says Frank Harrison, Regional Security Director Americas at World Travel Protection. “We know these are real and valid fears: Members of the LGBTQIA+ community can face a range of safety concerns when they travel, including harassment, violence, incarceration, and even barriers to medical and security assistance.”

Work travel is widely perceived as less safe for LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Half of business travelers surveyed (US 56%, CAN 47%) agree that traveling for work as an LGBTQIA+ employee is less safe than traveling as a heterosexual or cisgender person. Incidents of harassment and threats against LGBTQIA+ individuals are increasing, and a notable percentage of business travelers say they have witnessed or experienced harassment due to sexuality (US 22%, CAN 15%). Similarly, many have seen or experienced people needing to hide their sexuality while traveling for work (US 21%, CAN 17%), likely as a result of safety and security concerns.

Companies need to provide much more support and information to all employees about how to keep LGBTQIA+ travelers safe.

Among those surveyed, relatively few reported that their company provides information on LGBTQIA+ rights for the countries they are visiting – either to employees who have disclosed they are LGBTQIA+ (US 15%, CAN 11%) or to employees who have not disclosed their sexuality (US 15%, CAN 13%).

“Organizations must recognize the specific risks and concerns that LGBTQIA+ business travelers face and ensure they feel supported and safe,” says Harrison. “When sending LGBTQIA+ employees to parts of the world where their rights are not fully recognized by the host government, there needs to be a plan in place to support them.”

Harrison offers actionable guidance to companies looking to help keep LGBTQIA+ employees safe while traveling:

  1. Put a comprehensive plan in place, and communicate it clearly. This includes providing pre-trip information, noting how to access medical support specific to their needs (especially in places where healthcare could be refused to LGBTQIA+ individuals), and outlining clear protocols for addressing any incidents that may arise.
  2. Share pre-trip guidance with all employees, not just those who are open about their gender identity or sexual orientation. Don’t assume you know who will need the information – give it to all employees so that those who may not be out at work have the information they need to stay safe.
  3. Let employees decide whether or not to travel. When an employee receives their pre-travel awareness briefing, they may decide it is unsafe for them to travel to a destination, and organizations need to offer and respect that, encourage an open dialogue, and honor their decision.
  4. Foster an inclusive and accepting culture in the workplace. Feeling safe while traveling starts with establishing a respectful and inclusive corporate culture where all employees can bring their whole selves to work.
  5. Lean on travel risk management experts to understand the known risks at every location. Travel risk management companies play an important role in supporting LGBTQIA+ travelers by offering pre-trip intelligence about known risks and resources tailored to their needs.

Harrison adds, “By understanding the unique risks and providing targeted support, companies can help mitigate the challenges LGBTQIA+ travelers face and promote a safer, more inclusive travel experience.” 

*This release offers a snapshot of the attitudes and perceptions of business travelers from the US and Canada. Research was conducted by Opinium Research from February 1-8, 2024, amongst 1,000 adults who travel for business at least once a year in the US (500) and Canada (500).

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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