Travel firms warned against ‘diversity washing’

Travel firms have been warned against “diversity washing” amid evidence that employees expect promises to be backed by action.

Rebecca Thornley-Gibson (pictured), partner at law firm DMH Stallard, urged businesses to commit to inclusion initiatives when she spoke at Abta’s Travel Law Seminar on May 1.

“Employees really do expect that employers will live up to what they say they will do,” said Thornley-Gibson.

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She cited Deloitte research suggesting that if an employee is happy with the workplace culture, they are more likely to stay in the organisation for five years or more.

This means companies could save on recruitment costs if they make the right decisions on diversity and inclusion, Thornley-Gibson said.

Encouraging firms to focus on inclusion initiatives, she cited a quote from campaigner and author Vernā Myers. The quote reads: ‘Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.’

A raft of employment law changes have recently come into effect, said Thornley-Gibson, with further policies set to be introduced over the coming weeks and months.

In September, employees are expected to receive the right to request a predictable working pattern after 26 weeks in a job. Employers will have the power to accept or reject the request, Thornley-Gibson added.

Among the government’s other proposals is the limitation of non-compete clauses to a period of three months, or a ban on them altogether.

“That’s going to be a very interesting consultation,” said Thornley-Gibson.

If Labours wins the general election, she predicted Sir Keir Starmer’s administration would be “very employee-friendly”.

“If we have a new government, I think we will see a massive change in employee rights,” she said, citing policy proposals including fair pay, a ban on zero-hour contracts, the introduction of day-one employment rights, and the extension of unfair dismissal.

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