More than 100 travel professionals from Canada and the U.S. joined a virtual event, “Let’s Get Uncomfortable: Confronting Anti-Black Racism in Canada’s Travel Industry” last week on July 7th, 2020.
Through a panel format, “Let’s Get Uncomfortable” addressed workplace inequities and anti-Blackness in tourism from the perspectives of both travel professionals and travellers, while also addressing anti-racist action that attendees can implement within their work and organizations.
Moderator Shalene Dudley, founder of Latitude Concierge Travels, led the conversation, joined by panelists Maxine Gundermann, market sales manager, Eastern Ontario at Celebrity Cruises; Margie Jordan, TRUE Global Network with CCRA Travel Commerce Network; Kier Matthews, director of sales at Classic Vacations; and Tolu Aladejebi, founder of Black in Hospitality.
Travel professionals can watch and listen to a recording of the conversation at this link.
Some of the key takeaways are as follows:
For managers, executives, and business owners:
- Restructure HR not to protect the company and its management but to create a safe and inclusive work environment for employees.
- If you make a statement supporting Black Lives Matter and/or Black travellers, get your entire staff on board with implementing the actions you plan to take.
- Create a company culture where racism is not tolerated to the same degree as theft, dishonesty, sexual harassment, etc.
- Do not wait for your racialised employees to make a push for equity. Take the first step and check in with them to see if they feel included in your actions.
- Use COVID-19 rebuild to implement proper anti-racism strategies, better hiring practises, pay equity, and to take a stand publicly (not just internal statements).
- Actively promote the hiring of Black employees at all levels.
For travel advisors:
- If your clients show ignorance and bias about Black-majority destinations, re-educate them rather than simply accepting their statements.
- Direct clients to Black-owned businesses and Black-led operators, and to those products which are actively anti-racist.
For anyone in sales and marketing:
- Learn how to market to and support Black travellers in the way that we try to support LGBTQ+ travellers or solo women. Where will they be racially profiled?
- Ensure proper representation in your press trips, FAM trips, influencer partnerships, advertising imagery, and content. You are marketing to those whom you want as clients, not to your current clientele.
For all travel professionals:
- Hold companies accountable for how much action they are taking on equity and inclusion. Speak with your wallets and call out companies that are silent or are not following through with their commitments.
- Speak out when you see injustice in your own company or elsewhere, whether in non-diverse panels and events, racist decision-making, racist treatment of colleagues and fellow travellers, and beyond.
Travel professionals were invited to pay for tickets and silent sponsors were engaged in an effort to help organizers compensate panelists for their contributions; more than $1,800 was raised as a result.
More LGU events on the way
Now, both those who participated and those who didn’t are asked to tell the LGU team: What is one thing you plan on doing to be anti-racist as it relates to your work in travel & tourism? Answers can be submitted via email, on this Facebook post, or via this Google form.
This was the second "Let’s Get Uncomfortable” event, the first of which addressed gender equity in Canada’s travel industry in 2018. The organization was founded by a small group of travel professionals who are committed to bringing difficult conversations to the fore within the industry.
More “Let’s Get Uncomfortable” events for travel & tourism professionals are being planned for the coming months.
Reading and resources can be found by visiting letsgetuncomfortable.ca.