Singapore – Companies are in danger of putting their female business travellers’ personal safety at risk because they do not provide specific security training before these employees go on the road.
A poll of 120 female executives across Asia Pacific has shown that 57% of companies do not conduct personal safety training for women travellers. According to global medical assistance and security services company International SOS, 85% of respondents felt that their organisations need to provide more security guidelines before they take a business trip.
However, majority of female executives do not want any hassle in receiving travel tips. Three-fifths said they would prefer safety advice to be delivered via email or from a 24-hour assistance hotline. Only 20% wanted face-to-face briefings.
With female executives making up around 45% of the total corporate travel market, they are more likely to face additional threats such as harassment, assault or handbag theft than their male counterparts.
Dr Penelope Kinch, deputy managing news editor for Travel Security Services, a joint venture between International SOS and Control Risks, said, “Unfortunately, the reality is that women are generally perceived to be easier targets.”
However, Kinch said companies can help their female business travellers avoid or mitigate dangerous situations by providing adequate support “before, during and after travel”.
In general, female travellers should abide by five golden rules:
1. Be aware of your risk profile
An outgoing personality encounters more security risks than those with an introverted character. Be careful about attire as designer clothes and jewellery attracts attention. Wearing a wedding ring may help minimise unwanted attention.
2. Do your research
Research the security situation prior to travel and understand the areas that are considered safe and unsafe. Are there cultural sensitivities? What is the status of women in business and society? What languages are spoken? Are bare arms and legs permitted or appropriate?
3. Be a hard target
Arrange to be met at the airport by the company or hotel car or even better, by a colleague or friend. Avoid unlicensed taxis. Ensure mobiles are switched to roaming prior to travel. Carry a list of key contacts. Book a room on the third floor or higher and ask for women-only floors if available. Never accept food or drink from a stranger.
4. Show confidence and assertiveness
If you suspect you are being followed, go to a public place and call a taxi. Walk with confidence and avoid overt expressions of confusion. Politely refuse invitations to social events if you feel uncomfortable.
5. Stay calm
If approached, maintain personal space and try to avoid eye contact. In most cases, attackers want money and to leave quickly. Adopting an aggressive posture can escalate a situation into something more serious so stay calm and be prepared to give up possessions. Prior to travel, send a passport copy to a web-based email address for easy retrieval if the document gets lost or stolen overseas.
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