Everyone should be able to bring their whole self to work.

Or anywhere else, for that matter. But for many people showing up authentically in a professional environment is uncomfortable at best… And, at worst, genuinely dangerous.

The travel and lifestyle industry is no exception. Look around – really look – and you’ll realise there’s a distinct lack of diversity among the people who work in it. And no, it’s not because some types of people don’t want to work in travel and lifestyle (er, who wouldn’t?!). It’s because the spaces we’ve created aren’t always welcoming, or even safe, for them.

But all is not lost. We’re an industry built on relationships and transformational experiences. At Lightning we believe the humans of travel and lifestyle have it in us to create positive change – and we want to help make it happen.


We believe you should be the change you want to see.

Our brand purpose underpins everything we do here at Lightning, but we don’t just talk the talk. We know actions speak louder than words – so here’s what we’re doing about it.


We’re a Living Wage Foundation employer.  Underpaying employees (or, worse, offering unpaid internships) harms social equality because it favours those from wealthier backgrounds. That’s why we commit to paying our team at least £25k (the London Living Wage) and we don’t work on roles that pay less.

We publish salary brackets for all roles.  Salary secrecy fuels pay inequality, which disproportionately affects marginalised groups. Unlike other recruiters, we publish salary brackets for ALL our jobs.

We offer paid mental health days once a month.  Mental health is health. We want Lightning to be an environment where everyone feels empowered to be their best selves – and sometimes that means taking a time-out.

We’re Certified Proud.  We aim to create a safe space where members of the LGBTQ+ community can live a life free from discrimination and unease. As a member organisation, we commit to operating under The Certified Proud Principles.

We offer accessible, inclusive career guidance in our Lightning Lounge.  We want to help every candidate achieve their potential, whatever their industry, age, race, gender, sexuality, or class. To make career (and life) guidance accessible for everyone, we hold free, weekly one-to-one video chats offering CV workshops, job advice, industry insights, or even just a safe space and motivational boost.

We’re a QueerAF Lifetime Member.  QueerAF supports, mentors and builds the resilience of queer creatives to get their first commissions and kickstart their media career. As a lifetime member, we’ve helped kickstart this community-interest company and support a weekly newsletter to amplify queer content – all without the need for adverts. So they can tell stories because they matter to the community, not for clicks.

We’re an expert for The Conscious Travel Foundation.  The Conscious Travel Foundation is a community for like-minded travel professionals to share ideas and foster new relationships, providing essential resources and access to some of the most forward-thinking minds in sustainable travel – so that, together, we can take manageable, measurable and achievable progress towards a greener, more inclusive, more conscious travel industry.

Say hello to our charity partners.


Our founder is a diversity and inclusion activist.

Chris King

Thea founded Lightning with the goal of creating a new model of travel and lifestyle recruitment that puts people before profits, helping to set a new standard of diverse, inclusive practices in our industry. 

Since coming out as non-binary in March 2021, Thea has become an vocal advocate for the queer community. They share their story on LinkedIn, celebrated as one of the platform's top LGBTQ+ content creators and Instagram, as well as taking part in speaking engagements, interviews, and writing about their experiences as a queer transfemme icon on Lightning Latest.

After an ADHD diagnosis in 2022, thea has also been raising awareness of the challenges of neurodiversity in the workplace. 

"I try to bring stats to life through storytelling, so people understand discrimination isn’t some abstract concept: it affects real people and real lives. I hope to give a voice to people less able to speak up for themselves and work towards a society where everyone is truly free to be themselves.” – Thea Bardot (they/them/she/her, Founder & CEO of Lightning Travel Recruitment

Speaking engagements.

World Travel Market - Inclusivity in the workplace (panelist), November 2023

Docusign - Private Trans Awareness Week event, November 2023

University of Northampton - CV masterclass + personal brand, October 2023 (Jack Williams)

Independent Hotel Show - Top 5 hospitality hiring tips - October 2023

Global travel marketplace - top 10 LGBT travel trends x the importance of an inclusive culture and hiring practices, September 2023

Beyond the Damage of Words podcast - September 2023

Underrepresented Voices event for Andaz London - curator and host - June 2023

Mygwork - Employer branding panelist - June 2023

Pride @ Global - Q&A session for Global in studio, June 2023

Diversity Alliance Podcast recording - June 2023

Yougov - Inclusivity + Wellbeing in the Workplace, June 2023 (private event)

Globetrender - The Future of Queer Travel - (panelist), June 2023

Pret A Manger - Trans + Non binary inclusivity in the workplace + beyond, June 2023

Private event for One Hotel Aldwych - Trans inclusivity training, January 2023

World Travel Market - How to recruit top talent in a recession (panelist), November 2022

Independent Hotel Show - Allyship in the hospitality industry (panelist), October 2022

Private event for Nokia - Redefining the recruitment experience for trans and non-binary candidates (guest speaker), October 2022

Ideas Fest, Main Stage - Business has a vital role to play in Trans acceptance  (panelist), August 2022

Step Up, Stand Out and 86 The Silence, Change & How to Make it Happen (panelist), July 2022

SITE Leaders retreat, (panelist), July 2022

Travelling as LGBTQ, hosted by  Gwork - LGBTQ+ Professionals & Allies, (panelist), July 2022

The Journey of an LGBTQ+ Entrepreneur by Barclays EagleLabs, (panelist), March 2022

Private event for Diageo, Being LGBTQ in the workplace (guest speaker), February 2022

‘Diversity: It’s Not Just A Trend’ – A View To 2022: Hospitality Moving Forward by Exp101, September 2021

Private Event for Pan Pacific London - Trans Inclusion in Hospitality, September 2022

Media coverage.