Business Travel Less Safe for Women Survey Finds

A global survey of business travellers by World Travel Protection finds that seven in ten women say travelling for work as a woman is less safe than travelling as a man.

The Opinium survey of 2,000 business travellers in Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, commissioned by global travel risk management organisation World Travel Protection, found women are more likely to take measures to protect their safety during business travel, including not going out on their own at night (31%) and staying in close touch with family and friends (46%). One in ten women surveyed had experienced a negative incident, ranging from minor theft to assault and, for Australia specifically, more than double the number of women versus men do not like travelling to countries where women’s rights aren’t protected (39% vs. 15%).

Almost one in five (19%) women business travellers also feel their organisation should act with women’s safety in mind when they are travelling alone, for example ensuring that flights do not arrive late at night.

Interestingly, in their hotel or accommodation, both men and women take extra steps to protect their security, for instance placing a chair or obstacle against the hotel door to deter a potential intruder (16% both men and women), and using room service so they don’t have to eat in a restaurant on their own (17% both men and women). Moreover, one in five women business travellers (21%) prefer to stay in hotels that make provision for solo women travellers and a similar proportion (19%) wear a wedding ring (real or fake) to avoid unwanted attention.

“It’s important to note that, compared to men, women often have different safety considerations to think about when travelling for work,” says Kate Fitzpatrick, Regional Security Director, EMEA at World Travel Protection. “The risk will generally increase in countries with less equality. It’s essential, therefore, that women have a full understanding of the cultural norms in their destinations from what to wear to how they act, for example perhaps avoiding alcohol in public. We often undertake specific risk assessments for women business travellers to make sure their safety and security is the highest priority.”

A global survey of business travellers by World Travel Protection finds that seven in ten women say travelling for work as a woman is less safe than travelling as a man.

“As well as safety considerations, women business travellers may face gender bias in some cultures where it’s not the norm to have women in senior roles. I’ve personally experienced sexism and push-back because of my gender,” says Fitzpatrick. “People are surprised to meet a woman Director of Security, and whether it is a police chief in South America or a site risk inspection in West Africa, I regularly have to detail my past work in security and government law enforcement to give me credibility, something which my men colleagues never have to do.”

World Travel Protection educates and trains businesses to mitigate exposure to inherent risks associated with travelling abroad, for all staff, whatever their gender. The organisation also provides 24-hour medical, travel and security emergency assistance including medical case management, evacuation and repatriation, together with providing access to virtual care services (telehealth) and security intelligence.

The Opinium online survey was conducted with 2,001 people, who travel for business at least once a year in the UK, Australia, the US and Canada, from 23 January to 2 February 2023

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The Art of Business Travel is Asia-Pacific's leading portal for corporate travel news and views. We cover everything from airline routes and airport developments, to new hotels, meeting venues, loyalty schemes, and entertaining.