When planning a trip, feeling safe and welcomed ranks as the top consideration for 2SLGBTQI+ travelers and their families, as highlighted by a 2020 survey conducted by the Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC). 2SLGBTQI+ travelers are a valuable demographic, spending an average of approximately $1,800 per trip, surpassing many other traveler groups. Their purchasing power presents an opportunity to attract new visitors to our country and cities. However, the key to tapping into this market lies in providing safe and inclusive destinations. Ensuring that 2SLGBTQI+ travellers feel welcome and included is the crucial factor that can unlock the potential of this market and lead to numerous benefits for the tourism industry.
Merely being tolerated or accepted isn't enough; we crave destinations where our presence is celebrated and appreciated. Although Canada earned recognition as the Safest Country for 2SLGBTQI+ Travel in 2023, recent reports from Statistics Canada reveal an alarming increase in anti-2SLGBTQ+ sentiments, with hate crimes reaching a five-year high, escalating nearly 60% between 2019 and 2021. These disconcerting statistics often stem from prejudices, stereotypes, and misconceptions.
A Shift Towards Inclusivity
Companies are taking a stand against these harmful biases, stereotypes, and misconceptions - and the 2SLGBTQI+ community is paying attention. Canada boasts an array of hotels, restaurants, and attractions that openly embrace diversity and inclusion. A growing number of these establishments have moved beyond merely displaying a Pride flag in their windows. In response to an emerging movement that advocates for demonstrating inclusive corporate values, the Rainbow Registered program, spearheaded by Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC), provides a digital platform to discover businesses that prioritize safety and inclusivity.
Rainbow Registered Accreditation
Rainbow Registered businesses undergo a meticulous accreditation process, earning recognition as 2SLGBTQI+ friendly establishments through the only national certification endorsed by the Government of Canada. Becoming Rainbow Registered signifies an ongoing commitment and effort to provide a warm and accepting experience for 2SLGBTQI+ customers and employees through progressive policies and practices.
The program outlines a comprehensive set of standards that companies must meet to earn the coveted Rainbow Registered mark and its accompanying benefits. These standards revolve around four key Categories of Criteria: policies and practices, training, commitment to inclusive leadership, and fostering a culture of inclusivity. The program encourages businesses to embark on a journey of introspection, scrutinizing their operations and practices to identify and rectify any unconscious biases. Working closely with the CGLCC and their independent assessors, Rainbow Registered businesses forge a path towards greater inclusivity.
How to become Rainbow Registered
The Rainbow Registered program stands at the forefront of efforts to promote 2SLGBTQI+ inclusivity in Canada's tourism industry. It provides a platform for businesses to earn accreditation, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to welcoming and accepting 2SLGBTQI+ individuals.
A flexible program that can accommodate businesses of all sizes, the Rainbow Registered Program is a voluntary process that grants a time-limited recognition to businesses or communities for demonstrating compliance with the quality standard (i.e., the National Guidelines). Businesses/organizations that meet the program standard will receive accreditation for a three-year period and must renew annually.
Applicants must complete and submit the Rainbow Registered Program Application on the CGLCC website. They will then need to have their efforts assessed. Applicant businesses and organizations must demonstrate that their efforts meet the standard in each of the four key Categories of Criteria in order to be accredited. If the applicant meets the required Program standards, the CGLCC will accredit the business or organization.
The assessment process may take up to one month. However, the time required varies by how readily available applicant business or organization information is and on the applicant business or organization’s location and availability. CGLCC staff will work closely with applicants to ensure they have a full and comprehensive understanding of the application process.
Once complete, profiles of accredited businesses and organizations are publicly available through the Rainbow Registered Program consumer website at Rainbowregistered.ca.
Quick tips for making the most of your diversity and inclusion efforts:
1. Offer a Safe and Inclusive Space.
Prioritize the safety and comfort of your 2SLGBTQI+ guests by providing gender-neutral washrooms and training your staff on diversity, equity, and inclusion related to the community. Use gender neutral and respectful language, e.g. use terms like folks versus ladies and gentlemen - avoid honorifics like “Mr.” or “Mrs.” Share your name including your personal pronouns, and respect those of others. Encourage the use of gender-neutral language and ensure that employees respect guests' chosen names and pronouns. Changes like these can make a significant difference in creating an inclusive atmosphere.
2. Hire to diversify your leadership and staff.
Be intentional in creating a diverse workforce. Provide benefits packages that recognize 2SLGBTQI+ identities and address their specific needs. Conduct regular organizational training at all levels - even once a year is better than never. Avoid assumptions about gender, sexual orientation, and family/relationship dynamics of colleagues. Create an atmosphere where workers feel able to talk about their partners, weekend plans, family dynamics without fear of discrimination or loss of professional opportunity. Ensure your 2SLGBTQI+ employees feel empowered to contribute, by sharing their perspectives and ideas either casually or more formally through an established Employee Resource Group for your 2SLGBTQI+ staff.
3. Use Inclusive Imagery.
Incorporate diverse and inclusive imagery in your marketing campaigns. By featuring 2SLGBTQI+ individuals and same-sex couples, you send a powerful message of acceptance and inclusivity. Display signage in public areas that demonstrates you are 2SLGBTQI+ friendly. Visual representation can help potential guests see themselves reflected in your business, increasing their likelihood of choosing your establishment.
4. Develop Relevant Products and Services.
Consider the interests of the 2SLGBTQI+ community when designing your offerings. Focus on activities such as food and dining, popular tourist attractions, outdoor adventures, festivals and events, and arts and culture. Collaborate with local businesses and destination marketing organizations to ensure that the experiences you offer align with the community's interests.
5. Seek Advice and Engagement.
Engage with local 2SLGBTQI+ community groups and Pride societies to understand their needs and inclinations. Participate in 2SLGBTQI+ events and acknowledge days of significance for the community. Support or sponsor local Pride parades to demonstrate your commitment to the community. Consider establishing a 2SLGBTQI+ committee that includes community leaders and tourism industry advocates to provide guidance on developing and marketing your destination as a welcoming space for 2SLGBTQI+ travelers.
By prioritizing safety, inclusivity, and relevant offerings, businesses and destinations can attract and retain a loyal group of 2SLGBTQI+ travelers. These simple yet impactful steps demonstrate an authentic commitment to diversity and inclusion. As more businesses embrace these strategies, Canada can establish itself as a premier destination for 2SLGBTQI+ tourism, unlocking the economic potential of this vibrant community.
About Rainbow Registered
Rainbow Registered is national accreditation for 2SLGBTQI+ safe and welcoming spaces developed by Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) and Tourism HR. When you see a Rainbow Registered symbol, you know the business or organization meets a stringent set of standards to ensure 2SLGBTQI+ customers and employees can feel safer, more welcomed, and accepted.
About Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce
Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) links 2SLGBTQI+ businesses in Canada to the wider business and corporate community. It fosters economic growth by supporting and nurturing 2SLGBTQI+ businesses, entrepreneurs, students and allies, and by helping Canada’s corporate world connect with the 2SLGBTQI+ business community. www.cglcc.ca