How to Foster Inclusivity with Your Travel Program

Advancing DEI in a corporate travel program involves more than just checking a box. Here are steps you can take to make your travel policy more inclusive.

When an employee is traveling on behalf of their company, they should feel supported and taken care of. While this is true for any team member, it is especially critical for employees who could potentially be marginalized, discriminated against, or overlooked.

This might include (but is certainly not limited to) travelers of various races, ethnicities, genders, LGBTQ+ team members, neurodivergent travelers, employees with differing accessibility requirements, travelers with disabilities (both visible and invisible), or those in various stages of age and health.

There isn’t one single step to take to be inclusive – that’s the very nature of diversity and inclusion with its nuanced differences. Therefore, the most successful corporate travel policies are those that regularly evolve to stay inclusive, and proactively address all travelers’ requirements and preferences.

Here are three major steps to take that can help make your travel policy more inclusive.

 

Enlist the Help of Human Resources

Those who manage travel can start with their company’s HR department, who are likely already engaging with team members on DEI and employee wellbeing. This can be a great resource to provide insight into the unique needs of an organization’s workforce – because no two companies are entirely alike and accommodations will look different for every employee.

Although this team information can be incorporated into the travel policy, it does come with a caveat. It’s important to remember that employees might not always feel comfortable including certain personal information about their individualized needs. For a travel policy to truly be inclusive, it needs to move beyond a simple “checking the box” to bring about lasting change.

By working with HR and developing a more inclusive travel policy, employees will feel safe to raise concerns and have open conversations about accommodations they may need. This creates a happier and stronger environment for all, which has the bonus benefit of adding value to the business.

 

Address Risk Management and Employee Safety

Ensuring the physical safety of every traveler is vital. However, it’s imperative for an organization’s travel policy to take extra consideration surrounding the diversity of their workforce and identify which groups of employees may face unique obstacles when traveling on their own, such as the groups of travelers listed above.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, let’s take a look at a few specific questions travel managers can ask themselves:

What are the cultural norms in this travel destination? Is my team more likely to experience discrimination?

Consider the destination’s support of the LGBTQ+ community, female or non-binary travelers (especially solo travelers), different races and ethnicities, etc. Take all possible precautions to educate travelers about the area, including ways to avoid situations that could put them at higher risk of discrimination.

Do my travelers have accessibility requirements?

According to the GBTA Foundation, almost half of business travelers identify as having accessibility requirements, and even though airlines and hotels have taken steps to improve accessibility, it is not always intuitive on how to utilize these services. Travel managers might consider following up with suppliers and taking the time to verify that their travelers have the proper air, hotel, and transportation bookings to meet their specific accessibility needs.

What should travelers do in case of an emergency?

An additional way to keep travelers safe and protected is to lean on your trusted travel partner for assistance with risk management. At Direct Travel, we provide risk management tools and support for teams of all sizes, including policies designed to fit your organization’s unique needs.

 

Embrace Traveler Wellness

Truly inclusive travel policies consider the whole person, not just the business traveler. Those who manage travel have an obligation to support their employees and help them prioritize their health and personal well-being while they’re on the road.

Details in a traveler’s itinerary such as early mornings, late nights, or packed schedules might warrant extra care for that employee, such as an additional night in a hotel to give them time to rest. Consider choosing hotel partners that:

  • Allow flexibility for travelers to choose their preferred hotel within policy
  • Encourage bleisure stays
  • Provide concierge services
  • Include wellness packages
  • Offer more robust fitness amenities

These may be especially important for younger generations, as Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha are expected to prioritize health and wellness even more than previous generations. By being inclusive of all travelers’ needs and preferences, future business travel can become more pleasant and productive for the traveler and the company alike.

 

The Value of Inclusivity

One of the many benefits of inclusivity is innovation. Companies can embrace new perspectives and new ways of thinking, which adds value for the business. For example, with remote work on the rise, businesses now have the unique opportunity to pull from a wide array of diverse talent pools on a national or even global level.

Regardless, putting in the work to innovate a corporate travel program involves far more than a single step. Companies that provide the highest level of duty of care and treat each employee as an individual will foster a more welcoming environment within their travel program and throughout their organization.

At Direct Travel, our team of dedicated travel experts are eager to help you create an inclusive travel program for your entire workforce. Get in touch with us to learn more and to get started.

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