How to Ensure Employee Safety During Pride Month

Over the next few weeks, millions of Americans are expected to take part in LGBTQI+ Pride Month events, both in the U.S. and globally. A Pride parade is planned for Vienna, Austria, where last year Austrian police arrested three men who were allegedly planning an attack on the event. Other planned celebrations include a Pride March and Street Festival in Munich, Germany, and marches and festivals in Paris, London, New York City and Mexico City.

Attendees of past celebrations have experienced anti-gay protests, harassment and violence. The U.S. State Department recently issued a global security alert warning for Pride Month, warning Americans to be careful when traveling abroad due to the potential of attacks targeting LGBTQI+ events. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a similar warning about Pride events in the U.S.

The Department of State is aware of the increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence against LGBTQI+ persons and events and advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution. - U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affair

In 2022, incidents targeting the LGBTQI+ community in the U.S. were up 10 percent compared to 2021, while anti-transgender incidents rose nearly 40 percent. Globally, there were 1,052 incidents in 2022 recorded by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), an arm of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) that tracks hate crimes. That’s up from 979 in 2021.

Looking back at past Pride months, it's clear the risk is real. In June 2023, GLAAD and ADL documented 145 incidents of anti-LGBTQI+ hate and extremism in the U.S. In its latest annual review, ILGA-Europe said it found Pride events are increasingly targeted, with 16 countries reporting attacks before, during and after parades and festivals.

Here are some specific examples.

  • June 10, 2023: A number of LGBTQI+ lawmakers and influencers, as well as brands supporting Pride with merchandise or ad campaigns, receive bomb threats.
  • June 12, 2023: A man allegedly assaulted a passerby while yelling anti-gay slurs in New York City, breaking the victim’s nose.
  • June 17, 2023: At least two people are injured when someone throws a lit firecracker into a Pride event crowd in Hermosa Beach, California.
  • June 30, 2023: In Owensboro, Kentucky, a resident’s home is vandalized when two juveniles steal a Pride flag and spray-paint a swastika on the front door.

In Europe, advocacy groups warned of a spike in disinformation and hate speech on social media during Pride Month last year, resulting in calls for violence among other extreme reactions.

To Protect Employees, Take a Broad Risk Management Approach

Keeping employees safe no matter where they are is a priority for organizations. As Pride Month continues, risk managers need to stay on top of warnings and have a plan and tools in place to assist their people, especially those traveling abroad.

When it comes to physical threats, risk managers often first think about the locations they need to protect – especially offices, warehouses and other buildings. What the warnings about threats to Pride events tell us is that it’s crucial to take a broad risk management approach that considers risk to your diverse employee population. Signing up for government list serves is a great first step, but resilience requires additional action.

Here are some steps you should take now to prepare.

Four Ways to Keep Employees Safe During Pride Month

  1. Stay on top of potential threats with AI-powered risk intelligence. With so many events happening globally during Pride month, it can be challenging to identify all of the risks to your people. AI-powered risk intelligence can filter through the noise quickly, so risk managers only receive relevant and actionable intelligence. Accelerated identification of threats empowers risk managers to make informed decisions that lead to better outcomes.
  2. Monitor and mitigate risks throughout the travel experience, both in the U.S. and abroad. Travel risk management provides real-time critical event intelligence and overlays this data with employee movement and the proximity of their location to the threat. Keeping employees safe also means having a process in place to communicate about threats and assist employees.
  3. Deliver the right information to the right people at the right time with mass notification technology. The ability to deliver geo-targeted alerts around the world can save lives. It’s important to be able to send alerts through multiple channels and languages to ensure your message is received and understood by all impacted individuals.
  4. Ensure your employees have access to real-time, personalized support. Employees may also experience threats and challenges that don't rise to the level of public alerts. They may feel uncomfortable while traveling, even if a threat isn't explicit. An incident hotline makes it easier for them to get answers to questions like: “Where's the nearest hospital?” or “How do I replace a stolen passport?”

The mission can feel daunting and the path forward unclear. If you’d like to continue this discussion, provide feedback, or are looking for assistance, OnSolve is here to help.

Nick Hill

Nick Hill is Senior Analyst, Global Risk and Intelligence Services, where he drives intelligence analysis and services implementation to help customers mitigate dynamic risks and strengthen organizational resilience. Prior to his current role, Nick led product development and services implementation for a physical security provider leveraging AI to improve critical incident management. Nick is a former security manager overseeing travel risk management, risk intelligence, and global security operations, and previously served in the Marine Corps overseeing strategic intelligence analysis and production. For more real-time risk and resilience insights follow Nick on LinkedIn.