Often, the issue of diversity has been buried in broader traveler security, with a risk management provider or internal safety and security team providing guidance to travelers routinely, especially for geographies that have history of discriminatory laws or cultural norms. “We direct all travelers to our travel risk management site, where travel advice is available based on travel destination,” was an open-ended survey response that illustrated a typical process among respondents who had set up educational resources.
For others, the onus was on the individual to voice their needs and contact the travel manager, their direct manager, or a corporate security officer to discuss accommodations should a travel issue arise. travel. At these companies, said one respondent, “the journey is the same for everyone, but should a traveler come up with a specific concern, that concern would be taken seriously and changes to the itinerary would be made as appropriate. appropriate”. The judgment of who determined what might be “appropriate” was not specified.
Other respondents indicated that their companies strive to offer the same travel policy for everyone, with a few exceptions. These responses ranged from the simple “We treat everyone the same” to the more philosophical: “Our organization’s approach to business travelers is based on mutual respect and not on differentiation based on gender or color” and to the dismissive: “People are people, none of that other nonsense.”
Discrimination on a business trip
Global travel manager Kate Scully knows firsthand what it feels like to be discriminated against while traveling for business.
“As a black woman, I can never walk into a hotel in Dubai… without being ‘checked by prostitutes’. Even if I walk in with three of my colleagues, I will be pulled aside and asked to show my room key,” she said. “I could have stayed there for a week, and I will continue to be dismissed in front of my white colleagues. And they look away, and I look anywhere – my shoes, anywhere – and I let them know that I go see them at the lifts or whatever.”
Only once did a colleague intervene on his behalf and denounce what was clearly a racist directive from the hotel management. “A Brazilian colleague – a compliance officer – stepped in and was outraged,” she said.
More than half of survey respondents said their companies have mechanisms in place to report workplace discrimination and bias, including travel. Respondents were split on how this reporting happens, whether it comes back directly through travel channels or if it would be handled through more general corporate channels like human resources. Either way, buyers said it would be essential for them to receive these reports so they can report any incidents with suppliers.