This article was originally published by Advito.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) has become a major focus for many companies as they seek to improve the safety and well-being of their employees.
But have you looked at your meetings' travel program through a DE&I lens yet? From emails and travel policies to suppliers and even your online booking tool (OBT), there is a lot that goes into building a cohesive DE&I-driven communications strategy. Let’s start with what diversity, equity, and inclusion really mean in corporate travel:
- Diversity allows companies to increase the number of underrepresented groups within travel suppliers and partners.
- Equity is about improving communication and making sure it’s available in accessible formats.
- Inclusion ensures that people of all backgrounds can be their authentic selves at work and when they travel on business.
Related article: Being Part of the Movement: Environmental Stewardship Across Travel, Meetings and Events
Why DE&I matters
Get DE&I right and you’re not just reflecting and representing the world as it is; you’re also enhancing belonging for employees. This helps both organizations and employees thrive, increases innovation and creativity, and improves employee retention.
Addressing DE&I is particularly important in traveler engagement, in terms of internal communications and the resources you provide. When employees see themselves reflected and their needs addressed, they feel safe, respected, and connected. It’s also important to consider culture and preferences while your employees are on the road.
How to get started
Building a successful communications strategy that takes DE&I into account won’t happen overnight. There is a lot to consider, but don’t let this stop you from taking action now. It’s important to start and understand that your strategy will continue to adapt and evolve over time. There are four key areas to address when looking at your travel program from a DE&I perspective:
1. Where do you stand today?
The first area to focus on is where your organization currently is with its DE&I strategy. Does your internal communication strategy already incorporate some DE&I elements? Do you have a dedicated DE&I task force or group? For example, Advito works internally with the BCD Group DE&I council to evaluate how communications align with the company’s DE&I goals.
2. What resources will you use?
It’s important that DE&I is considered throughout all your internal communications. From an email template to the user experience in the booking tool, you need to think about the various outlets you use to communicate with your travelers. Many times, you may simply find collateral that needs to be updated and in other cases, you’ll discover a gap where you need to create new resources. Examples of this could be:
- Creating audio versions of travel policies
- Developing guides that help travelers with different backgrounds and needs travel safely and comfortably
For example, with a recent client, Advito developed infographic guides with tips for LGBTQ+ travelers and women travelers, and we are currently working on a guide with accessible travel tips. These resources were designed to be used before, during, and after business trips. Advito is also creating resources on cultural norms to raise awareness among travelers visiting certain destinations. Naturally, these are also digitally accessible.
3. Are your suppliers aligned?
Another key focus area is to think about your suppliers from the perspective of DE&I. Are the suppliers you use in line with your goals and values? It’s critical to assess who you’re negotiating or contracting with to help bring alignment within your program. Then, communicate this with your employees. Help them understand why you’ve chosen certain preferred suppliers to support your DE&I efforts.
4. How can your travel policy improve?
In some cases, you can address DE&I-focused initiatives in your travel policy. This may look like accommodating medical conditions and catering to employees with different income levels. For example, some may find it difficult to put a hotel room on a credit card and have to wait a couple of months to be reimbursed. Once you make changes, it’s important to create a communications plan that notifies travelers of these updates.
With DE&I at the forefront of your communications strategy, you will be in a better position to connect with travelers and provide them with the tools they need to travel better. Plus, your travelers will feel more connected to your program as a result.
The important thing to know about this approach is that while you can target different areas of DE&I, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your travelers will have different concerns you want to cater to in terms of disability, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, and so on. Getting it right is a journey, so as travelers’ needs shift being flexible and accommodating is key in prioritizing the well-being of your travelers.
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