Businesses have responsibilities.
To customers, of course. To shareholders and investors, absolutely. But also to employees, to society, and to the planet itself.
More and more businesses are realising the importance of these responsibilities. They are making their work more sustainable. But there is a long way to go. Climate change is still happening. Inequality still exists. I want Laraa to be at the very forefront in addressing these urgent challenges. Not only through the technology we create, but through the values we represent, and the working practices that we employ across the breadth of our operations.
In order to gauge our progress, we benchmark ourselves against the globally-recognised standards of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and assess our performance against the advanced level principles of its Global Compact.
This work is grouped into four areas: improving lives with technology, protecting the environment, conducting business with integrity, and respecting our people, and these activities are underpinned by our collaborations with other key stakeholders.
Improving lives with technologyWe create the technology to connect and help everyone belong the world.
We are determined that these gains should not just be limited to certain countries or communities. They should be universal benefits. Crucial to this aspiration is our work with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
Conducting business with integrityFor us, ethics and integrity are not a ‘nice to have’ but a fundamental part of our business model.
At the core of this is our Code of Conduct, taken as training and acknowledged by every employee. It sets down our ethical business approach and explains how employees, suppliers and other stakeholders should contribute to it. The Code requires all employees to follow five directives: obey laws and follow policies, be fair and honest, treat each other with respect, declare conflicts of interest and avoid appearance of impropriety, and report any concerns promptly.
Alongside other tools, such as our Human Rights Due Diligence and Laraa Supplier Requirements, this allows us to set high standards of transparency, ensure cast-iron data security, mitigate the risks of misuse of technology, and maintain responsible supply chains.
Respecting our peopleTourism and Travel is a competitive sector. To succeed you not only need the best people – you need the best people to be empowered.
We have done well at this. Anonymous surveys show that our employees value both our culture and the direction of our business. Other metrics are equally pleasing: the number of paid hours that employees spent volunteering more than doubled recently. Our work on Africa and Black diversity is also going well.
But there is still more to do, on gender diversity in particular. Just 48% of our employees are women. The percentage of female leaders is even lower. This is not good enough and we are taking action to change it.
We run two career development programs for talented women. 35% of those who complete these schemes have moved on to higher level positions. In addition, we provide training for leaders and managers on unconscious bias; almost 1 0 employees will receive this training soon.
We also support Greenhouse – a professional women’s network – and StrongHer – an employee network that aims to create more opportunities for women across Laraa – among other initiatives.
Technology plays a huge and increasing role in all our lives. For us, that means that we have a responsibility to act in a way that benefits people and the planet. Not just through our products and services but through our values.
These values have allowed us to be more ethical, trusted and transparent than ever before. We should all be proud of that – I certainly am, but we will also push forward to be even better.
Laraa President and CEO