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The importance of safeguarding LGBT+ business travellers

Over the last 20 years, there has been remarkable global progress in LGBT+ rights, paving the way for greater inclusivity and diversity in many parts of the world.

However, it's essential for HR leaders to acknowledge that a significant number of countries with conservative or heteronormative cultures still pose risks to the safety and wellbeing of LGBT+ individuals.

HR's role in safeguarding LGBT+ business travellers

How to keep your employees safe overseas

How HR can improve LGBT+ employees' access to international assignments

As business travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, companies need to reevaluate the safety and security of their LGBT+ employees when sending them on international trips.

To achieve this, travel policies should be updated and tailored to the changing laws, addressing the unique challenges faced by LGBT+ travellers in certain destinations.

Understanding the risks

Certain regions present increased risks to LGBT+ business travellers, and these potential dangers should ideally be factored into corporate travel policies, regardless of the cultural norms of the destination or the traveller’s identity.

Traditionally, pre-travel briefings (PTBs) have primarily focused on general threats such as civil unrest, terrorism, lack of healthcare and criminality, neglecting risks based on the travelling employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Countries in Western Europe generally offer more safety for LGBT+ travellers due to widespread societal acceptance and robust legal protections.

On the other hand, regions such as Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia can be challenging for LGBT+ individuals, with varying levels of legal discrimination and societal hostility.

In some countries, LGBT+ individuals may face violence, persecution and even the death penalty.

Risk mitigation strategies for LGBT+ travellers

To fulfil duty of care for LGBT+ employees and ensure their wellbeing during business travel, organisations should take proactive measures.

Here are some key actions to consider within your travel policy.

Inclusive PTBs

PTBs should be comprehensive and inclusive, covering risks faced by all travellers, with specific guidance for individuals who could face increased risks, such as LGBT+ individuals.

This information should be presented to all employees, to acknowledge not everyone may openly share their sexual orientation.

Consult LGBT+ networks

If your company or industry has an LGBT+ network, seek their input when designing the LGBT+ section of PTBs. Their expertise and insights can be invaluable in understanding the specific risks and challenges may be encountered.

Regularly review and update PTBs

Country risk profiles can change rapidly, so PTBs should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect current conditions. This could include changes in political climate, protest movements, or legal developments affecting LGBT+ rights.

Respect employee preferences

If an employee has concerns about traveling to an LGBT+-unfriendly destination, avoid making assumptions about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Instead, offer alternative options, such as online meetings or sending another employee, while ensuring equivalent career development opportunities.

For advice and in-depth information on the risks LGBT+ travellers may face during business trips, Solace Global help global enterprises, governmental organisations and NGO’s to develop robust security strategies and safeguard their employees.


David Downing is intelligence analyst at Solace Global Risk