15 Aug 2019 | by Abbie Hanton

A study by Deloitte found that 72% of employees would leave an organisation for one they believe to be more inclusive. However, what is inclusivity?

According to the dictionary, it is the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.

In layman’s terms it means: do not exclude anyone.

More than ever, customers are working with businesses and selecting brands that are seen to adopt an inclusive approach. Companies are beginning to understand this and are working hard to create products, services and solutions that do not exclude anyone. For example, Herbal Essences recently became the first mass hair care brand in North America to introduce an inclusive bottle design for people with low to no vision.

Another example is Starbucks; who opened the first sign language shop, where all employees are fluent in American Sign Language. Deaf employees wear an apron created by a deaf supplier with ‘Starbucks’ spelled out in American sign language, while those who don’t have hearing impairments wear a pin that says ‘I sign’. Customers who are new to sign language can also use digital notepads to communicate with staff.

The Incentive travel industry is following in the footsteps of these brands. Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX group said, “Travel is one of the best ways to foster cultural sensitivity”. The mass adoption of global travel has helped to encourage interaction between both individuals and communities from diverse cultures and backgrounds. The adoption of incentive travel by businesses not only motivates employees but adds to their cultural wealth and openness.

However, to many, incentive travel conjures thoughts of exclusivity rather than inclusivity. Over the years many incentive travel programmes have been available to only the top performers within sales teams. Whilst this still occurs and serves a purpose within organisations, there is a growing trend that incentive travel is available to all top performers and not just those working within sales. Instead of sales targets, attendees of such trips can be selected by how they adopt corporate values and culture or other more qualitative factors. There are other businesses that have scrapped the acceptance criteria altogether, taking the entire business from cleaner to clerk, director to developer on a trip as they see the value that travel can add in building relationships, motivating teams, aiding collaboration and much more.

Incentive or motivational travel provides the opportunity to nurture inclusivity, understanding, collaboration, empathy, motivation and a whole host of other benefits. It can do this in two ways, through how the trips are created and the criteria for attendance, but secondly through the creation of the programme. Whilst the action of travel and the immersion in different cultures aids in the long term inclusivity by nature, in the short term programmes can be designed in a way that every attendee feels included.

But, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and incorporating inclusivity into incentive travel cannot be achieved overnight. Within the incentive travel industry, we work to educate people about how they can better integrate inclusivity into their travel programmes. We make it our business to understand destinations and cultures and select suppliers and partners that can support with this. As an industry we are working together through the Society of Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) to create an environment that fosters inclusivity and sustainability. 

Abbie Hanton

By Abbie Hanton

Abbie started her events career in January 2016, after returning to the UK following 4 months au pairing in The Netherlands. Abbie is a project manager in the Incentives team, and has a passion for exploring new destinations.More articles by Abbie Hanton