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Published: 12 month

Discrimination is also present in business travel

Nearly two thirds of business travellers feel they have not started out on an equal footing with their colleagues, and attribute this mainly to their age, accent or gender.

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Most people feel that there is discrimination in the way business travel is assessed, according to a survey by SAP Concur, a subsidiary of SAP that provides business accounting services. A global survey of 3,850 business travellers in 25 markets found that nearly two-thirds of business travellers feel they have not had equal opportunities to travel for business compared to their colleagues, and attribute this primarily to their age, accent or gender.

Each year, the survey has highlighted the impact that high-profile issues - COVID-19, the Russia-Ukraine war or even inflation - that have shaped the year can have on how business travel is conducted in large companies. Now in its fifth year, the survey also looks at equal opportunities as one of the most pressing challenges facing business travellers.

"Missions" are a very popular motivational tool in all companies worldwide, perceived by employees as a reward, even if they have to work. And the services reimbursed by the company can be recorded, registered and reimbursement approved in SAP Concur, making a company trip even more convenient for all users.

Almost all those surveyed (94%) are willing to travel for business, with 67% of them keen to do so. In fact, 92% say their career future depends on successful business travel in the next year, as it's important for maintaining customer relationships (42%) and making new contacts (41%). More than a third (38%) say business travel is important to staying up to date with the latest trends, technologies and developments

Nearly two-thirds of global business travelers (62%) feel they have not had an equal opportunity to travel for business compared to their colleagues. Even more (72%) U.S. business travelers feel they have been given a different path. Respondents attribute this to the following reasons:

  • age (global: 21%, US: 27%)

  • accent (17%, 23%)

  • no (17%, 26%)

  • physical appearance (16%, 25%)

  • ethnicity or race (15%, 22%)

  • parental status (13%, 18%)

  • sexual orientation (8%, 17%)

  • disability (7%, 14%)

92% of LGBTQ business travelers feel that they have not been given equal opportunities to travel on business trips compared to their co-workers because of their age (38%), gender (34%) and sexual orientation (31%)

Even if they are awarded a business trip, their joy is not without its upsides: the majority of global LGBTQ travellers (90%!) have hidden their sexual identity during a business trip, whether because of a personal sense of fear, to protect the business objective or to comply with the laws and traditions of the destination. In the past 12 months, 82% of LGBTQ business travellers have had to change their accommodation because they felt unsafe.

Almost all (94%) have experienced unfair treatment during a business trip, such as being ignored by service staff (45%), being the target of sexual advances or comments (40%), and undergoing unfair or inadequate security screening (33%).

Telecommuters say business travel is critical to workplace relationships. Yet more telecommuters feel they have not had an equal opportunity for business travel because of their remote location or irregular commute to the office. More than three in 10 telecommuters recognize that business travel is critical to building meaningful relationships with co-workers (38%) and building stronger relationships with managers (37%), compared to those who work in the office (27% and 24%, respectively).

Of course, there are also those who already feel the burden of frequent posting. Half of telecommuters (50%) say they travel more than they would like, compared to hybrid (37%) and office workers (29%).

The disadvantages can also be cumulative: of telecommuters who are also parents, 16% say they have not had equal opportunities to travel for business because of their parental status, compared to hybrid (12%) and office workers (11%). Of course, telecommuters are most likely to turn down a business trip because finding childcare is challenging (19%, 14% and 14%, respectively).

Global business travelers still say health and safety are the biggest threats to business travel (44%) - outpacing international or local conflicts and tensions (34%), inflation (34%), budget cuts or travel freezes (31%), and telecommuting and virtual meeting opportunities (28%).

Travellers expect their company

  • allow them to make off-policy reservations to ensure their safety (worldwide: 48%, US: 56%),

  • to support work-life balance (47%, 53%),

  • book sustainable options (36%, 37%),

  • take leisure trips (34%, 41%),

  • book conferences (31%, 46%) and

  • take a trip to promote ideological or lifestyle differences (30%, 41%)

Safety (44%) and health (41%) are still the biggest reasons for refusing business travel,more so than travel burnout (27%) and finding childcare (15%).

In the last 12 months, 64% of Gen Z and 61% of millennials have changed their accommodation during a business trip because they felt unsafe. This is a significantly high proportion compared to 40% of Gen Xers and 15% of baby boomers. In fact, 85% of boomers say they have never had to use this practice.

Here's what kind of unfair treatment frequent travellers experience during their journeys:

  • Being ignored by staff (worldwide: 31%, US citizens: 41%)
  • .
  • Unclean or inadequately conducted security screening (26%, 32%).

  • Were asked if they were traveling with their spouse (25%, 34%).

  • Feeled in immediate danger (23%, 31%)

  • They were the target of unwanted sexual advances or comments (22%, 36%)

  • Target of derogatory comments (20%, 27%)

  • Treated as hotel workers by fellow travellers (19%, 29%)

  • Photo: unsplash.com

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