Joining forces with HRG in 2018 was a pivotal turning point for American Express Global Business Travel (GBT). In combining our organizations, we were not just welcoming new people but also a new identity as we became the world’s largest partner for managed travel. With this expansion came greater responsibilities, and we began to reflect deeply on the purpose of our work and the role we play, not only to our clients and travelers, but also in the global community.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), travel and tourism is an $8.8 trillion industry, employing one out of every 10 people in the world, in every country in the world. With that scale, we have the opportunity to drive significant economic and societal benefits. As we refresh our brand, we also are strengthening our Responsible Business program, focusing on several key issues influenced by travel activities and the work we do.
Our first initiative centers on an issue we know is on many of our clients’ minds: what we can do to reduce the environmental footprint of business travel.
At GBT, we help our clients get their travelers where they need to be, while also guiding them toward greener choices.
Addressing the increasing demand for emissions reporting and data to implement greener travel policies, our Green Insights™ tool provides clients standard emissions data for air, hotel and transportation activities. For more detailed analysis, we partner with third-party experts that offer greenhouse gas footprint analyses and ongoing reporting to track progress.
We can help clients craft policies and implement best practices so they can achieve greener travel programs that meet their corporate goals. For instance, companies can select air routes with lower associated emissions, choose best-in-class suppliers that champion sustainable services, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through an offsetting program that aligns with their corporate values. (For example, at GBT, we offset our business travel by purchasing carbon credits to support the Envira Amazonia Project.)
We regularly help travelers through disruptions and emergencies that arise during their journeys. Once we make sure they are out of harm’s way and help get them back on track, it’s back to business as usual for them. However, that’s not the case for millions of families impacted by conflict or natural disasters around the world.
Children, in particular, are vulnerable during times of crises. Emergencies represent a heightened risk to the physical and emotional security of children, especially when they interfere with their schooling. School is an essential piece of a child’s recovery, not only helping to restore their sense of security and normalcy, but also shielding them from the chaos around them in the aftermath of a catastrophe.
GBT has committed to support UNICEF with a global donation of half a million dollars in support to help get children back to school in times of crisis. The partnership is part of our flagship cause for focused giving as part of our Responsible Business program.
“Our GBT team is particularly great at shining in a crisis, from the care we provide our travelers to get them home safely during natural disasters or other disruptions to the support we give to our fellow team members and communities when they need it most. As the world’s leading partner in managed travel, we are honored to support UNICEF and the outstanding work they do around the world to educate children in times of crisis,” said Si-Yeon Kim, chief risk and compliance officer and executive champion of Responsible Business for GBT.
Combatting human trafficking
According to the International Labour Organisation, there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. Of this total, it is estimated that 25 percent are children. People are trafficked for many different forms of exploitation, such as sexual slavery, forced labor and coerced criminality. It exists virtually everywhere, yet not all countries criminalize it.
Since trafficking relies on travel networks to operate — with airlines, hotels and ground transportation companies sometimes unwittingly being used by human trafficking operations — the travel industry is in a unique position to set up a line of defense against this illicit activity.
To do our part in preventing this violation of human rights, we became a founding member of the WTTC’s human trafficking task force. The first global industry-wide initiative of its kind, the task force was formed earlier this year to increase industry and consumer awareness and take preventative steps to fight human trafficking.
At GBT, we have asserted a zero-tolerance policy toward human trafficking. We are committed to ensuring there is no modern slavery or human trafficking in any part of our business and have implemented a robust oversight program and screening measures that are designed to prevent and detect human trafficking in our supply chain. We are also providing training to our people so they are aware of the issue and can help to identify and eradicate this inhumane practice.
“Modern business travelers care about the values and practices of the companies whose services they use. With our Responsible Business program, our clients know they’re serviced by an organization that invests in the long-term well-being of its people and communities,” said Michelle Dyer, vice president of risk and compliance – EMEA, corporate development, and responsible business.
You can learn more about our Responsible Business initiatives by scrolling to the end of “Our Company” page.