In 2022, we defined and strengthened our purpose – to power progress through travel – and laid out ways we can use travel as a force for good. As the year takes shape, we are turning our vision into reality.

As revealed in our Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) report, American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) has developed a series of “bold commitments” – meaningful actions tied to our purpose and ESG priorities. With our global footprint and relationships with 19,000+ clients, we recognize that we have great potential – and even greater responsibility – to drive a positive influence across this world.

In establishing the bold commitments, we spent a lot of time reflecting on what we, as one of the world’s leading travel management companies (TMCs), could do to best serve people and the planet. First, we invited a diverse group of colleagues to think big about the ways our company could make a profound impact. By the end of the exercise, we had generated 300 ideas.

To get from ambitious aspirations to tangible outcomes, we identified the most meaningful commitments we could act on now. Then, we whittled down the list to three actions based on feasibility and impact. Finally, we began taking the necessary steps to translate ideas into actionable tasks and integrating them into our daily operations.

Let’s take a closer look at the three bold commitments we arrived at and how we’re putting our purpose into action through them:

1. Economic: Make the future of work an opportunity for all 

The evolution of the way we work has opened a whole new world, presenting employers and employees alike with exciting opportunities. Our mission is to help companies unlock the benefits of alternative working methods.

First, we believe in being at the forefront when it comes to creating opportunities for our people, and this very much is at the heart of our ambition. How are we doing this? By focusing on the three core aspects of how we work and engage with our colleagues – flexibility, careers, and community. As part of our People Promise, we launched key programs in each of these areas – Grow@GBT, GBT Communities, and Travel Perks. But we aren’t resting on our laurels. We are working on more exciting ways to improve our flagship programs to create even more opportunities for colleagues.

Secondly, we help our clients navigate the challenges and opportunities created by new ways of working. We believe that the core of what we do – bringing people together – is more important than ever, whether it’s to foster new business relationships, strengthen existing ones, or collaborate with colleagues. We are also adapting and expanding our services and solutions to address new and emerging needs.

Last but not least, the true value we deliver in the evolving business world stems from the experience and insights we have gained as a leader in business travel and as a global organization that has embraced a predominantly virtual workforce years before the pandemic. Over the past few months, we have published a series of future-of-work-related white papers and thought leadership pieces, with more on the horizon, to guide the industry and our clients.

2. Social: Move people when it matters most

When a humanitarian cause deeply aligns with a company’s purpose – to power progress through travel – we know we’re on the right track. In our case, we have been using our travel network and skills to help move refugees and migrants to safety.

Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021, we began working with Miles4Migrants to help secure travel funding and arrange flights for thousands of Afghans trying to escape the perils of the new regime. Our commitment didn’t stop there. Last year, we expanded our support to help Ukrainians fleeing the war get to Canada. In 2022, we mobilized a team of 30 travel counselors, aiding the relocation of approximately 6,000 Afghan refugees and around 1,500 Ukrainian refugees by December of that year.

New humanitarian sponsorship programs from the US government allow individuals forced to flee Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Ukraine, and Venezuela find safety in the United States with the help of an American sponsor. We recently collaborated with Welcome.US to build Welcome Connect Travel, a program that makes flights more accessible to those looking for sanctuary in the United States.

Our goal for this partnership is to make sure that the cost of a flight – and the ability to book a ticket – are not barriers to those seeking safety.

3. Environmental: Lead the industry toward sustainable aviation

Given that air travel accounts for 2.5% of global emissions and is the most significant contributor to business travel emissions, we are on a mission to ignite the decarbonization of aviation with a focus on scaling sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

SAF can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80% on a lifecycle basis compared to fossil fuel, which is why it’s become the airline industry’s primary pathway to reach net zero by 2050. In 2022, Amex GBT and Shell Aviation launched an unprecedented pilot program designed to increase the supply of and demand for SAF. We are urging those in the private sector to join us on this quest to accelerate decarbonization across the aviation sector.

How the program works: Drawing from our base of 19,000+ clients, the program connects airlines with the buying capacity of businesses willing to share SAF’s ongoing price premium. Corporations can reduce their business travel emissions and work towards science-based emission targets by committing to purchase SAF environmental attributes.

Companies participating in the program will have access to Avelia, one of the world’s first blockchain-powered digital SAF book-and-claim solutions for business travel, which can help them track and verify the emissions curtailed from their contributions.

In 2022, Aon, Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, and Delta became sustainable aviation first movers to help scale SAF. As just announced, Bank of America is the first banking institution to join the program.

“The business travel sector has a critical role to play in scaling SAF and accelerating the decarbonization of travel. We will move closer to achieving these objectives with more companies like Bank of America making bold commitments and recognizing the powerful role the corporate travel program can play in achieving a company’s broader sustainability ambitions,” said Andrew Crawley, president, Amex GBT.

For more information on our bold commitments and how we are powering progress through travel, read our annual Environment, Social, and Governance report.