We recently observed Juneteenth at Context Travel for the first time in what will become an official company holiday.
For us, and in solidarity with protests supporting equality happening across the US and world, it represented an opportunity to reflect on how we can more proactively support the progression of equality and equity. It was also a day for members of our team to join in with the protest movements.
Context Travel has always believed in promoting understanding and compassion amongst all people and across all cultures. We believe in conscious and intentional approaches to travel.
For the past 10 years, we’ve supported charitable causes such as a travel scholarship which we started in partnership with educational non-profit St. HOPE for one or two students from an economically challenged neighborhood in Sacramento, California.
However, over the past few weeks we’ve also recognized that there is much more we should be doing as an organization and positive force within the travel and educational community to put action behind strongly held beliefs.
We started by looking at our team. As a Certified B-Corporation, we reexamined their diversity and inclusion criteria. We’ve always scored favorably, with a strong female majority of our leadership team and overall team. However we are not appropriately representative with other groups, particularly with people of color and also the LGBTQ+ community. We’ve observed a similar representation gap amongst our global community of experts and scholars.
In recognition of this, we plan to join a diversity pledge currently being assembled by longstanding Context scholar Mitch Bach and his organization, Tripschool:
We call upon large tour operators and DMCs to recognize the importance of hiring a more diverse staff of tour guides, directors and personnel.
Within our tour portolio, Context Travel offers stories of culture and history often untold in the realm of travel experiences, from histories of slavery to modern-day immigration. At the same time, we have meaningful gaps in our programming about marginalized groups and uncomfortable topics in our global portfolio. As travel comes back we are committed to change this.
We also recognize travel experiences are not affordable to many. We are determined to do a better job of making cultural education more accessible, whether virtually or otherwise, spreading it further and wider to audiences who do not have the opportunity to travel.
With much of travel still on pause, we are working within our live online format to introduce new programming in the coming weeks that spotlights Black history in the US. With this offering we will support non-profit organizations chosen by scholars leading these seminars. We will also allocate a number of tickets at a nominal cost for participants without the financial means to attend these seminars. This education should be accessible to all, especially in the current environment.
We recognize this is the beginning of a more aware journey for us and our industry, and are committed to leading from the front.
Here is our current list of resources for learning and supporting:
Online resources from The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
New York Public Library’s Black Liberation Reading List
PBS Learning Media Juneteenth video
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