Even though gender equality has taken phenomenal strides over the last two decades, it is still unfortunate that in many countries, there are still certain distinctions between men and women. There are still customs, traditions and etiquette that the woman business traveler need to learn so that they won’t offend their hosts or not run afoul of what is deemed ‘proper’ in these cultures.
Here are some of the business etiquette businesswomen should remember when traveling abroad:
There are still many restrictions imposed on women in terms of the clothes they were. This is most apparent in countries in the middle east or in predominantly muslim countries. For example, wearing a scarf is encouraged when traveling in these aforementioned countries, and is mandatory if you plan to visit holy places like mosques. Avoid wearing clothes that reveal too much skin and wear closed-toe shoes.
In terms of business attire, women are advised to wear a high quality dress or skirted suit in a fabric that has a solid color. It is interesting to note that in different European countries there are certain preferences that come out. In France, stylish clothes and wearing makeup is very important. In Austria, the tailored look is preferred. You shouldn’t wear a lot of accessories when doing business in Denmark, and the Germans prefer suits in dark colors.
You should avoid wearing pant suits, extremely high heels or boots and costume accessories. Don’t think that the business casual movement of the 1990s is still fashionable. In fact, according to the book Global Business Etiquette: A Guide to International Communication and Customs, the business casual movement actually had a detrimental effect on women, especially those who wanted to make career advancements because their attire prevented some people to take them seriously. The power suit has made a comeback and it actually helps in imposing your authority among colleagues and staff.
Women business travelers should not be afraid to interact with the local culture, especially if their safety so you’ll have a better understanding of not just the local culture but the local business etiquette.
The local business culture
Be aware of how business is conducted in different countries. For example, meetings are more traditionally run in London, as opposed to how it is conducted in Denmark. Always take cues from what you observe. If in doubt, ask your local counterparts if there is anything you should know about local business practices before a meeting starts.
About The Author
Derek Gallimore is the owner of Boutique London Lets, a company that provides serviced apartments in London.