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Concerns and tips for female business travelers

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All business travelers have plenty on their plate. There’s the logistics of travel itself—for example, what happens when your plane is delayed or you’re on standby? There are the annoyances of business travel, such as packing light so you don’t have to check your bags. There are the personal considerations such as being away from your family.

Then, of course, there are the considerations that are related to the work itself that you’re going to be doing. For example, how do you keep up with expenses while you’re traveling and technical details like global taxation baselines? How do you manage your receipts and stay compliant with your employer’s travel policy?

Beyond all of that and all the moving parts that can be part of employee business travel, women have even more considerations to think about.

The following are some of the challenges, different considerations, and tips for female business travelers, whether they’re just starting to travel for work or they’re seasoned travelers.

The growing number of women business travelers and safety risks

Right now, women are the fastest growing demographic when it comes to new business travelers. According to a Skift report, 47 percent of women travel do so for work and business. At the same time, safety remains an issue. One in four female travelers have encountered something they viewed as a negative incident while traveling for business according to research from Maiden Voyage.

Some of these negative incidents based on the report included things like hotel room break-ins and thefts that weren’t necessarily personal, but no less negative. Then, there were also reported incidents that were very personal, such as stalking, sexual assault, and harassment.

There are things that both women travelers and their employers have to think about that might not necessarily be the case otherwise. For example, what about traveling within a destination? How safe is public transportation? As part of a company’s duty of care plan, they should fully assess these kinds of travel risks and create policies accordingly.

What some companies have done if they’re sending female travelers abroad or to places where ground transportation isn’t considered safe is hire personal drivers for them while they’re in their destination.

Travel policies and training

It’s really important for employers to not only know where gaps in safety could exist for female travelers, but they also need to ensure that they’re including these possible risks and gaps in their formalized training and policies.

Research from the Global Business Travel Association found that even though there is a high level of awareness regarding the risks faced by female business travelers, only 18 percent of corporate travel policies reflect this.

There should be a gender-specific component to employee travel policies and training programs when it comes to certain considerations. Many female business travelers feel they weren’t prepared by their employer going into trips and in how to deal with incidents if they encountered them.

Some of the training and guidance provided shouldn’t just be gender-specific, but should be location-specific.

Depending on the destination a woman is going, the cultural norms and the risks can be very different. For example, in some cultures, it wouldn’t be appropriate to initiate a handshake as a woman.

Accommodation recommendations

Along with concerns based on location and also ground transportation, lodging should be a significant consideration when planning a business trip for a women. Travel organizations recommend that female travelers are booked into rooms that are at a minimum on the third floor and ideally higher. There should be limited access to their rooms from the outside according to general recommendations. It’s also important to select hotels with around-the-clock security.

What employers have to realize is that focusing their attention on the safety and comfort of their female travelers isn’t just for the benefit of employees. It’s for their own benefit as well. It’s a strategic move to ensure female business travelers are productive and focused on what they’re there to do, but it also is important because companies need to be able to show they took all the proper steps and precautions if something does go wrong.

It’s also important from the perspective that employers need women to be willing to travel for work. It can be a necessary component of the job, and with women taking on more leadership positions in many companies, they need to feel like their employer is going to take every possible step to ensure that any business travel they do goes smoothly. It shouldn’t be pandering, but it should be focusing on the duty of care as should be the case with any employee who is traveling for the company.

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