LGBTQ+ business travelers are becoming more worried about traveling to states with conservative views due to fears of safety. How are companies battling the stigma, and are employees right to worry?
Employee Safety Paramount
Companies and event organizers are now grappling with a delicate balancing act as they prioritize their employees’ safety outside the workplace.
Tighter Restrictions For Left-Wing Views
The backdrop of this story is a significant shift in conservative laws, with dozens of states enacting stricter abortion restrictions and more than 180 bills targeting LGBTQ rights making their way through statehouses.
Corporate Caution and Conservative Concerns
This evolving legal landscape has left companies and event organizers scared of supporting abortion and LGBTQ+ causes, worried about the boycotts from concerned “anti-woke” conservatives.
Scenarios Under Scrutiny
Companies are grappling with various scenarios, including how to handle a pregnancy-related emergency for an employee in an anti-abortion state or a confrontation faced by a trans employee.
“We think critically about who we are sending where and ask employees if they’re comfortable going to a state that has demonstrated they are not inclusive towards people with certain identities,” admitted Ciara Gross, CEO of a consultancy firm.
Dangerous States For Progressive Employees?
“We could be putting someone’s physical and psychological safety on the line in some of these states,” she continued.
Pushback Against Boycotts
While some, including the Canadian government, advocate for state boycotts as a response to these laws, others argue that boycotts are meaningless and only harm employees and small businesses.
California’s Unique Approach
California lawmakers have taken a distinct approach, replacing a ban on state workers traveling to states with anti-LGBTQ policies with a public awareness campaign.
Understanding the “Don’t Say Gay” Law
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in June 2022, stirred significant controversy, pushing legislation that restricts discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in primary grade levels.
Conservative Critics Speak Out
Critics argue it hinders crucial conversations about diversity and inclusivity, calling it the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Corporate Caution Amid the “Don’t Say Gay” Law
The introduction of the “Don’t Say Gay” law and the broader influence of conservative “anti-woke” messaging have made companies more cautious about supporting progressive causes publicly.
Impact on LGBTQ+ Business Travelers
One survey revealed the impact of these law changes on LGBTQ+ business travelers in the last year, with 82% changing accommodations after safety concerns.
These changes have spurred companies to revisit their policies concerning employee safety, resulting in a growing sense of urgency.
Duty of Care
Much like the shift brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are revisiting their “duty of care” policies to ensure employee safety in a changing world.
Some organizations are compiling lists of potentially dangerous travel areas, and issuing new policies “that allow employees to express concerns, establish boundaries or refuse travel.”
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