We had a very lively panel discussion at Virgin Disruptors in London this week, with lots of healthy debate. But one of the things everyone was in agreement on was the need for business people to speak out when they see inequality, unfairness and unacceptable issues.
As I said onstage, business leaders and influencers have a big responsibility to get out there and tackle problems. If every business and individual took that attitude, we could get on top of every problem. A great example of this in 2016 has been the stand everyone from Marc Benioff to Bruce Springsteen took against North Carolina’s “bathroom” law.
While not claiming to have all the answers, it is vital that those who have the opportunity use their platform for good. As Springsteen said when cancelling his concert in Greensboro in protest the “bathroom” law: “It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”
With this in mind, I was proud to see Virgin Holidays publish the results from its LGBT travel report into the issues faced by LGBT travellers worldwide. However, I was saddened to learn more than one in three (37 per cent) LGBT travellers have experienced some form of discrimination whilst on holiday, with six per cent experiencing a threat of physical violence due to their sexuality.
At Virgin Holidays, we believe everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the right to be whoever they are, wherever they are. That’s why it is shocking that in today’s society some of us can’t even enjoy a simple holiday without fear of discrimination. It’s fantastic that Virgin Holidays are doing their bit to raise awareness around this important issue.
As part of our commitment to addressing the issues faced by the LGBT community when travelling, Virgin Holidays will stage a LGBT equalities conference in conjunction with international tourism partners, and focus on empowering staff, informing customers, and influencing partners. Virgin Holidays is also joining LGBT equality charity Stonewall, as a Diversity Champion.
We certainly don’t have the solution or all the answers, but we are committed to trying to change the attitude of the travel industry and be a proactive force for change in the LGBT community. For more information on the campaign please visit virginholidays.co.uk/losethelabels.