As the United States continues to see shifts in state laws regarding reproductive health and LGBTQ rights, many companies are facing difficult decisions when it comes to business travel. As new abortion bans and other anti-LGBTQ laws take effect in many states, companies who travel for professional reasons may be forced to confront a business climate that they may find difficult to navigate.
The developments have been swift and far-reaching. Alabama is the most striking example due to its banning of all abortions except to protect the life of the mother, while Georgia, Ohio, Kansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Missouri have all passed so-called “Heartbeat Bills” that ban abortion after as few as six weeks of gestation. At the same time, several states have passed laws that allow businesses and individuals to refuse services to people based on religious beliefs.
The implications of these laws for businesses engaging in travel could present significant challenges. For example, a company sending representatives to a state that has implemented restrictive abortion policies could find themselves in a difficult situation. Furthermore, a business could face an awkward or potentially hostile response if they choose to enter a state that has passed anti-LGBTQ laws.
At the same time, a company must consider the ethical implications of bypassing a state for business reasons. For instance, a company choosing to avoid a state due to its policies may be seen as taking a stance against the state’s laws, and could face backlash from those in the state who are in favor of the policies.
Of course, some businesses may choose to navigate the issue by limiting travel to areas that have adopted more progressive policies. This strategy may be more palatable for some companies, while still allowing them to conduct business in other states. Moreover, businesses could lobby state legislatures or participate in legal challenges against restrictive laws.
Above all, the politics of business travel is sure to remain complicated in the current environment. As companies decide how to conduct themselves when navigating policies they may not agree with, they must do so carefully and thoughtfully, to ensure the safety and respect of their teams, customers, and the communities they visit.