Inclusivity Outside the Office: Making Business Travel Safer for All Employees
Within many advertising, marketing and media agencies, traveling for work is a frequent necessity. Many within the industry can relate to waking up for early-morning flights, overcoming jet lag for a client presentation and long days “on set” capturing everything needed for a campaign. Yet, for employees with marginalized identities, such as those who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) and/or part of the LGBTQ+ community, additional challenges can arise before and during the standard work trip. Inclusivity expert Nate Shalev explains the business travel concerns that were top of mind for them as a person of trans and queer experience. “My legal name is different from the name that I go by … knowing that somebody else was going to be handling my travel was really stressful because now I’m concerned that my whole team could potentially know me by a name that I no longer go by,” Shalev said in an article for Deem.
Shalev’s considerations also extended to the actual trip: “Does this state have protection against LGBTQ discrimination? If I’m going outside of the country, is it legal to be gay here? And this also includes things like, is this hotel LGBTQ friendly? And if I get hurt will a local hospital treat me? How will what I’m wearing affect the way TSA is going to be treating me, as well?”
As an agency, awareness of experiences like Shalev’s is critical to continuing to deliver effective advertising and media. When acted upon, acknowledgment of specific travel concerns can foster employee loyalty, allowing agencies to hold on to the diverse talent necessary to successfully reach audiences of different races, genders, socioeconomic levels and cultures. Employees who feel safe and empowered to show up as their authentic selves are less likely to look for opportunities elsewhere. However, it’s important to note the employees most at risk of facing discrimination or unsafe situations while traveling might have reservations about broaching the topic with their superiors. Employees with marginalized identities often worry about being perceived as difficult or aggressive for voicing their concerns. Agencies can alleviate that fear by taking the lead in discussing this topic in the workplace and encouraging open communication.
So, how should industry leaders approach this topic with employees? By fostering opportunities for genuine communication. When the need for travel arises, supervisors can broach the subject with affected team members during their regular one-on-one meetings. This way, supervisors avoid singling anyone out, and employees can privately share any concerns about visiting a particular state or region in advance. This approach also allows employers to work with employees to find solutions, creating a greater sense of care and safety among employees. While each marketing, advertising or media agency will have its own process for handling these concerns, getting them out into the open empowers agency leaders to make choices that not only retain talented team members, but also contribute to a more inclusive company culture overall.
Is safety something that concerns you or your coworkers when traveling for work? If so, how has your workplace alleviated your concerns?