The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) has released its 2022 diversity and inclusion initiatives to coincide with the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd.
On May 25, 2020, Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, during an arrest.
The incident was a catalyst later that summer for mass protests against anti-Black racism, giving rise to the global Black Lives Matter movement, which demanded accountability for the senseless killing of Floyd and dozens of other Black individuals by police and others.
Floyd’s murder captured the systemic racism that exists within policing, and following other deaths involving non-white individuals in the presence of police (Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, Daunte Wright, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and others), the world – the travel industry included – has been reassessing the ways in which racist systems are intrinsic to everyday life.
ACTA, which faced scrutiny last summer over its response to Floyd’s murder, and its own racial diversity, equity and inclusion practices in general, says it has undergone a “period of introspection” to examine its own practices in areas such as hiring and marketing.
“The death of George Floyd made all of us stop and think about our own values and how organizations can work towards helping to remove system barriers,” said Wendy Paradis, ACTA’s president, in a statement on Wednesday (May 25).
One step that ACTA, alongside other travel industry business, has taken is signing The Black North Initiative – a Canadian response to engage corporate Canada.
The initiative’s goal is to motivate businesses to act on removing systemic barriers negatively affecting the lives of Black Canadians along with Indigenous individuals and People of Colour.
In February, to mark Black History Month, ACTA announced the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee to explore and address ways ACTA can support the removal of barriers internally and throughout the travel sector.
One of ACTA’s Diversity and Inclusion committee priorities in 2022 is to continue building awareness, the association says.
“We are finding that there are still many of us in the Canadian travel industry who are not fully aware that there are significant barriers in the industry, and for travellers, who may experience challenges because of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, or disability status,” said Paradis.
“Our goal is to slowly and steadily create more awareness through education. There is no quick fix, and ACTA is committed to working diligently in promoting a more diverse and inclusive industry.”
Diversity & inclusion training
ACTA’s educational platform also came under fire last summer as advocates, at the time, criticized the lack of anti-racism training that was available to Canadian travel professionals.
ACTA, now, offers training modules related to the subject (which are available online) and the association says additional courses will be added throughout the year.
The current modules include:
- Unconscious Bias
- Respect and Inclusion in the workplace
- Canadian Indigenous Culture Training: The Truth & Reconciliation Edition
- LGBTQ2S+Diversity and Inclusion Training for Workplaces
ACTA says its next initiative to raise awareness will be the creation of a video in the coming weeks where members of the ACTA D&I Committee will discuss some of the challenges Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) travellers face on a day-by-day basis and how professional travel agents can enhance their travel experience.
Paradis noted that diversity and inclusion will also play a significant role in ACTA’s September 2022 Canadian Travel Industry Summits taking place in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
“I invite Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, LGBTQ2S+travellers and individuals with disabilities to reach out to me at email@example.com if you would like to become involved,” Paradis stated.