I’ve been working on updating an international travel protocol. One would think this is pretty simple: get a passport, buy a ticket, hop a big ‘ole jet airliner, and go. I’ve been on the receiving end of these protocols – spent two years in Belgium and a year in India on assignment. I’ve traveled to every continent and seen a lot of crazy stuff. But I haven’t left the land of liberty for a while now (Canada and (until just recently) Mexico don’t count) and I gotta tell you: this world has become a crazy f’d up place to travel…especially if you hale from these parts. If you’ve never been to the US Department of State and checked out some of the travel warnings and alerts on countries across the globe – and there are a lot of them – you’re in for a treat. Here’s an excerpt from the profile on the Democratic Republic of Congo:
Travelers are frequently detained and questioned by poorly disciplined security forces at numerous official and unofficial roadblocks and border crossings throughout the country. Requests for bribes in such instances are extremely common, and security forces have occasionally injured or killed people who refuse to pay. In the last six months, the Embassy has recorded several instances in which U.S. citizens were detained illegally by government forces. The isolation of the area makes the provision of consular services difficult.
Granted, the D.R.C. is an extreme case and it is unlikely you’d be traveling to an area like this for non-essential reasons. Yet somehow business in these places keeps on keeping on. And there are people who, despite these risks, board a plane and set up shop in these scary scary places. Talk about a passion for what you do!Nowadays there are organizations that make a living from assessing, advising, and supporting companies that send their people to these high risk areas. They offer body guards, security detail, armored vehicles…all of which are staffed by the ex-commando-green beret-wearing-bad asses who come from planets far far away. Fifteen years ago, most of those outfits didn’t exist…didn’t need to. Now we have HR people trying to make sure their policies and procedures protect their employees from getting blown up on their way to work. How messed up is that?
“Duty of care” has taken on a whole new meaning for us, my dear HR friends. You may not have people jumping off to Somalia every day, but do you have a good take on where they are traveling? Could you account for and attest to your employees’ safety at any given time – day or night? ‘Cause some day you may be called upon to do just that…
Photo Credit: Texas Armoring