SONDERS & BEACH’S STANDARDS OF CONDUCT
SONDERS WAS THE FIRST TRAVEL COMPANY IN ITALY TO JOIN UN FREE & EQUAL STANDARDS OF CONDUCT
Sonders and Beach Group is honored and proud to support the UN’s standards of conduct for business protecting equality for LGBTI people in society and in the workplace.
We want to fight against any kind of discrimination and inequality. We are committed to eliminate all types of discrimination in the workplace, respect employee’s human rights and support the LGBTI Community in the workplace.
Alessio Virgili – CEO Sonders&Beach
“There is growing awareness that the private sector, and the Tourism industry, can play a key role in bringing much needed social change when it comes to the Human Rights of LGBTI people globally” Fabrice Houdart noted. “Having companies such Sonders and Beach express support for the Standards sends a powerful signal to all stakeholders that the time has come for the private sector to play its part”.
25 April, 2018
Fabrice Houdart – Human Right Office @Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights / United Nations
At All Times
1 RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS
In line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and in consultation with workers and their representatives and with LGBTI organizations, as well as other relevant stakeholders, companies should put in place policies and processes appropriate to their size and circumstances to ensure that they are respecting human rights, including the rights of LGBTI people:
- Policy commitment: Companies should develop policies to meet their responsibility to respect human rights, expressly including the rights of LGBTI people.
- Due Diligence: Companies should conduct due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for, any actual or potential negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights by LGBTI people that they have caused or contributed to or which are directly linked to their operations, products and services, and business relationships. The assessment of any such actual or potential adverse impacts should be done in consultation with relevant stakeholders in countries of operation, including, in this case, LGBTI organizations. Companies should account for how they address any actual or potential adverse impacts identified.
- Remedy: Companies should seek to resolve any adverse human rights impact they might have caused or contributed to, engaging actively in remediation mechanisms by itself or in cooperation with other legitimate processes, including establishing and participating in effective operational-level grievance mechanisms for individuals or communities concerned. Such mechanisms should be legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, rights-compatible, enable continuous learning, and be based on engagement and dialogue. They should not be used to undermine the role of legitimate trade unions in addressing labour-related disputes, nor preclude access to judicial or other non-judicial grievance mechanisms. Companies should ensure that grievance mechanisms address specific issues of concern to LGBTI people. An essential element of a robust grievance mechanism is protection for whistle-blowers. Companies should use their leverage to influence and change discriminatory policies and practices of business partners or suppliers who discriminate against LGBTI persons.
Where such efforts do not meet relevant standards, they should consider and assess the impact of terminating business relationships with such business partners or suppliers, unless doing so might itself lead to adverse human rights impact.
In the Workplace
2 ELIMINATE DISCRIMINATION
Companies should not discriminate among individuals or groups as potential or current employees based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics:
- Employment: Companies should recruit staff and extend each individual the same benefits, salaries, opportunities for training or promotion regardless of a candidate’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics, and include reference to non-discrimination on these grounds in vacancy announcements where legally feasible. Companies should take steps to ensure that LGBTI staff feel fully included in the workforce and avoid them from being forced to either reveal or conceal their identity/status within the workforce.1 The role of top and middle management in ensuring effective compliance with fair recruiting practices is critical in this regard.
- Harassment and discrimination:* Companies should take active steps to prevent, protect against, and eliminate discrimination, harassment (external or internal) and violence directed against LGBTI individuals. Companies should offer reporting processes to prevent and address harassment and discrimination in the workplace while protecting those who report such abuses from retaliation. Companies should take steps to protect LGBTI staff from external harassment by identifying and addressing security issues in consultation with employees, including the safety of staff traveling to and from work and on company-related business.
- Diversity awareness: Companies should train staff and in particular, managers, to raise awareness of human rights concerns faced by LGBTI people and ensure that they are aware of their responsibility under company policy to respect and uphold the rights of LGBTI people, including colleagues. In particular, organizations should ensure that relocation policies and practices for all staff (regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics) deliver awareness of any risks or other reduced rights considerations for LGBTI people.
- Extend benefits: Companies should extend the same benefits to partners, spouses, children or other dependents of staff members, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or sex characteristics.
- Respect privacy: Companies should respect and support the right to privacy of all persons, including by keeping any information relating to the sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics of individuals confidential and secure, and not revealing such information to third parties, including authorities, without the express authorization of the individual concerned. Data encryption is critical in this regard. In their efforts to eliminate discrimination in the workplace, companies should ensure that they address the specific rights of trans people and intersex people at work. States and companies tend to lag behind on these two components within the LGBTI community. Companies should adopt policies for trans inclusion, including recognizing the gender identity of trans staff, customers and other stakeholders based on the self-identification of the person, regardless of whether this is reflected in official documents. This also includes establishing policies that require company staff to respect the name, pronouns, terms and gender used by the person concerned. Companies should adopt policies to support and protect the rights of trans staff who are transitioning, including those relating to modification of company records, and provide training and guidance to managers and colleagues in respect to gender identity and expression. Companies should ensure that genderaffirming surgery, treatment and support are covered by company health insurance policies. Other important aspects of trans inclusion include safe and non-discriminatory access to bathrooms and other singlesex facilities for trans people, and nondiscriminatory dress codes. Companies should adopt policies to respect the rights of intersex people at work, including in relation to accessing personal services and changing rooms, dress codes, health care and medical attention.
* Some concrete steps companies may consider include: analyzing travel exposures, developing commuting policies, and educating employees on safety risks. In exceptional cases, companies may consider arranging for escorts to accompany targeted LGBTI employees.
3 PROVIDE SUPPORT
In addition to policies to eliminate discrimination and other human rights violations, companies should take proactive positive measures to create a positive, affirmative environment within their organization so that LGBTI employees can work with dignity. Companies should support efforts by LGBTI employees to create their own informal staff groups and extend the same opportunities to them for extracurricular activities as they would to any other group. Pro-LGBTI policies are critical but for them to be effective, in order to attract or retain LGBTI staff, companies should have a proactive approach with high visibility.
In the Marketplace
4 PREVENT OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Companies should identify, prevent, and mitigate other risks to the human rights of LGBTI people that may be specific to their industry, local context, or set of partners and stakeholders. In that area too, companies should provide employees and other stakeholders with the ability to safely register complaints, with both an identified complainant and those delivered anonymously. Violence, torture and ill treatment against LGBTI people have been documented inter alia in schools, clinics and hospitals, in detention, and in the context of law enforcement or security operations, while incitement to hatred and violence has been documented in the media sector.
All companies, and particularly those within the aforementioned sectors or those who interact with partners and stakeholders in these sectors, should assess whether through their operations or business relations they are causing or contributing to violence, bullying, intimidation, ill-treatment, incitement to violence or other abuses against LGBTI people, and take concrete measures to prevent and mitigate such risks. The company should use its leverage to stop abuses in instances where its business partner is engaged in abuse that the company has not caused or contributed to, but which is nevertheless linked to its operations, products, or services through a business relationship. However, the appropriate action will depend on a range of factors including: the degree of leverage over the entity concerned; how crucial the relationship is to the enterprise, the severity of the abuse, and whether terminating the relationship with the entity itself would have adverse human rights consequences.
Employees should also be held accountable if their conduct abuses others’ human rights. Companies should not withhold products or services from individuals or groups based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. Companies should use their leverage to influence the behaviour of suppliers and partners, whose practices may, intentionally or not, discriminate against or otherwise violate the rights of LGBTI people.
In some cases, it may be appropriate for companies to take public advocacy positions.
As an important corollary, companies should actively support partners and suppliers who extend opportunities, products and services on a non-discriminatory basis to LGBTI people and those who recruit them, including in jurisdictions where the rights of LGBTI people are not respected.
In the Community
5 ACT IN PUBLIC SPHERE
Companies cannot alone transform societies in which they operate. Even so, it is important for
companies to take positive, affirmative steps to respect and, where there are opportunities to do so, promote human rights, using their influence to champion rights through words and deeds.
Companies should communicate their policies effectively in appropriate contexts, in consultation with local stakeholders. Companies should also exchange their experiences in this area in relevant forums such as the annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, guided by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, with the support of the UN Human Rights Office.
Companies should, together with other companies, consult with local organizations working to promote the rights of LGBTI persons as to appropriate steps that they could collectively take to challenge discriminatory laws and practices. They should sponsor and partner with local LGBTI groups, including youth centres, community centres, advocacy groups and charities.
Question & Delay Implementing Abusive Orders
Companies should take every available legal step to question, challenge, delay, and resist implementing government orders that might lead to human rights violations, including human rights violations against LGBTI people.
Companies and their organizations should engage in negotiation, consultation, and information exchange with trade unions at the sectoral, regional and national levels on issues of common interest relating to rights of LGBTI workers.
STANDARDS OF CONDUCT FOR BUSINESS: EXPLANATORY NOTE
These Standards reflect already existing international human rights norms. The standards are intended to serve as guidance for companies — large and small, stateowned and privately-owned, operating only in one country or in many — on how existing international human rights standards, including those derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reflected in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, may be applied in respect to the rights of LGBTI people.
These Standards stem from internationally-recognized human rights to which LGBTI people are entitled by virtue of existing international human rights treaties. Companies have a responsibility to respect all human rights of all people and in all circumstances, and should fulfil all of their human rights responsibilities as articulated in the UN Guiding Principles. Because LGBTI people disproportionately experience discrimination, violence, and related human rights violations, particular attention is needed in order to ensure that they are able to exercise their rights.
These Standards apply to all business enterprises, regardless of size, sector, location, ownership, and structure. While multinational and other companies operating in jurisdictions where the law is discriminatory towards LGBTI people face specific challenges in discharging their responsibility to respect rights, violence, and discriminatory practices against LGBTI people take place in every region and country in the world, and international standards apply in all cases.
For the Standards to be effective, each industry sector will have to assess the risks and impacts in specific contexts and countries and adapt their approach to implementation accordingly. The Standards describe in broad terms the kind of measures that companies should consider in order to align their policies and practices with international human rights standards. They also include suggested optional measures to promote equality and combat stigma that are advisable, circumstances permitting.
The application of the Standards should be guided by local stakeholders. Respecting and understanding local parameters in applying these standards will reduce the likelihood of companies taking ineffective or counter-productive initiatives. This can be achieved by actively promoting the involvement in and ownership by local stakeholders, including LGBTI civil society organizations.
In applying these Standards, companies should adopt a nuanced and differentiated approach, taking into account the different human rights challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and intersex people respectively. LGBTI people face both common and distinct human rights concerns. In some cases, some may be specifically targeted by violence and discriminatory laws and practices. While in many countries, all LGBTI people suffer from gaps in the legal framework and related protection challenges, trans, and intersex people are often especially exposed — given the scant attention given in most cases to their human rights concerns. As companies elaborate and implement policies, they should be mindful of these specificities and the diversity of the LGBTI population, which will frequently require taking differentiated approaches to each segment of the LGBTI population. Companies should also take into account that LGBTI individuals may be affected by multiple forms of discrimination — including racial discrimination, and discrimination based on sex, age, ethnicity, indigenous origin, religion, health, disabilities, and socio-economic status.
While companies are encouraged to support, endorse, and refer to these Standards in reporting on their actions to respect and promote human rights, the Standards do not come with a mechanism to monitor their application. The UN Human Rights Office encourages companies themselves, as well as trade unions, civil society organizations, academic institutions, and other stakeholders to monitor and evaluate performance, set benchmarks, identify and share good practices, and engage in dialogue on further steps that might be taken in line with these Standards.