Parity and safe travel

Companies are competing to correct the gender imbalance in recruitment and pay equality.  After many years of obstruction and false starts, parity is now taken more seriously and seen as normal practice in the workplace.

A direct consequence is an increase in the number of female business travellers.  The ‘road warriors’ club extends equally to our female colleagues and this should be taken into consideration when working with the company TMC.

Our female colleagues are as knowledgeable and skilled as men when it comes to travel, but the enlightening 2016 study from Maiden-Voyages Women in Business Travel, highlights some very real risks for female business travellers.

  • 24% of women travelers suffered an adverse situation when traveling on business (e.g. theft, physical assault, sexual harassment or attack, attempted kidnap, and intruders in hotel rooms).
  • 67% were uncomfortable on public transit and walking in an unfamiliar city.
  • 55% said they didn’t feel safe alone in a cab.
  • 4% of female business travelers have encountered sexual harassment while traveling.
  • Yet only 5% had received female business traveler safety training and 31% said their employer didn’t adequately take care of them.

Although we are seeing an increase in initiatives such as women-only taxis, better-adapted hotel stays (some hotels even go as far as reserving an entire floor just for female travellers) and a rise in specialised services (travel insurance or agencies for women), the first step for the employer is to adjust its travel policy.

Forbes recently quoted figures from the Global Business Travel Association, which stated that, while more than 50% of member companies confirmed that the percentage of female business travellers had increased significantly over the last 3 to 5 years, only 18% took this into account within their travel policy.

This figure is paradoxically low, as 70% of members also acknowledge that female business travellers are more at risk than their male counterparts.

The main risks appear to be related to the hotel and transportation during transfers.

Two immediate actions could be taken:

  1. Amend the travel policy to ensure that rooms reserved for female business travellers will be on the top floor of any hotel assigned by the employer, avoiding the ground or 1st floor,
  2. Establish ground transportation contracts with reputable local companies, in particular for the most at-risk destinations.

Finally, a quick and easily attainable solution is to provide greater training for both female and male travellers in the best practices for safe travel.

For useful advice, the AIG Travel for Women website offers a long list of common-sense travel tips for women. More information can be found at

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