When sending your LGBTQ+ employees to different places for work-related trips, it’s important to understand the context of that area. Laws and policies differ greatly bt states, counties, and cities, so as a manager, supervisor, or CEO, it is part of your responsibility to make sure you are sending your employees to safe places, or with adequate protections so that they are safe for their work trip.
Here’s an example of why this is important.
Let’s say that you work for a Minnesotan company, and are sending one of your LGBTQ+ employees to an educational conference hosted at North Dakota State University. The laws and protections for LGBTQ+ people in Minnesota are not mirrored in North Dakota. For example, North Dakota lacks laws regarding hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and they do not prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on gender identity and sexual orientation. You want to ensure that your employee has the safest travel experience possible. Knowing vital information like this allows your company to effectively plan a safe trip and to protect your employee so they are operating in a safe environment.
One solution that may come to mind is to send another employee who is not a part of the LGBTQ+ community. This may seem like the best thing to do, however, it is not a solution. This can be a form of discrimination. Just because your employee is LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean they should miss out on this educational conference. The solution is to take precautions and do everything possible to ensure that your LGBTQ+ employee is safe. You can do this by finding an LGBTQ+ friendly hotel for them to stay at, the conference itself is LGBTQ+ friendly, and safe transit to and from each location, whether it be through flight or by renting a car. Most importantly, ask the employee how they feel about the situation.
This is a topic that also requires a conversation that your LGBTQ+ employees should be included in. Some may not feel safe enough to travel to an area without protections, and some might. It’s important that their input is added so that as a leader at your company, you are making the best decisions you can for your employees, and your company.
While we are not experts in the law, we have rounded up some great resources that you can use when trying to decide where, and if, it is safe for you to send your LGBTQ+ employees to specific places.
The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) is a resource that we’ve recommended before, and are recommending now! It breaks down policies by state or by issue.
We’ve also compiled a list of Midwestern states’ legislative websites so that you can use that to do research on other kinds of policies and laws the state has: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, and Kansas.
Most importantly, a great resource is your LGBTQ+ employee, have a conversation with them.