Business Etiquette for Women Traveling Abroad

Business Etiquette for Women Traveling Abroad

Here is a great arti­cle by: Rogue Par­rish, Demand Media writ­ten for USA Today I thought you would enjoy.


Women busi­ness trav­el­ers should wear a high-quality dress or skirted suit in a solid color, as Jeanette S. Mar­tin and Lil­lian H. Chaney rec­om­mend in “Global Busi­ness Eti­quette: A Guide To Inter­na­tional Com­mu­ni­ca­tion And Cus­toms.” Ann Sabath in “Inter­na­tional Busi­ness Eti­quette: Europe” notes the impor­tance of chic clothes and makeup in France; going for a tai­lored look in Aus­tria; min­i­mal acces­sories in Den­mark; and wear­ing dark col­ors in Germany.

What to Avoid

When plan­ning your wardrobe, avoid pantsuits, very high heels or boots and cos­tume jew­elry. “Global Busi­ness Eti­quette” notes that business-casual attire, although pop­u­lar in the 1990s, pre­sented “spe­cial prob­lems for women,” par­tic­u­larly those want­ing to advance to man­age­ment, where they are less likely to be taken seri­ously. John T. Mol­loy, author of “New Women’s Dress for Suc­cess,” rec­om­mends that women pur­chase expen­sive business-casual attire in a tra­di­tional style, to avoid los­ing author­ity with col­leagues and new acquaintances.


South­east Asian coun­tries with high heat and humid­ity dic­tate the wear­ing of nat­ural fab­rics, while con­ser­v­a­tive dresses and suits rule the day in Japan, Hong Kong and Korea. In Arab coun­tries, women should wear loose-fitting dresses that cover the arms. Mar­tin and Chaney note that in Africa, dress is some­what more for­mal in the English-speaking coun­tries and less for­mal in nations where French is the busi­ness lan­guage. Busi­ness attire is exec­u­tive casual in Aus­tralia and New Zealand, though more relaxed in the South­ern Hemi­sphere sum­mer. Use high-end fash­ion for vis­its to South America.


If you plan to visit churches, mosques or tem­ples as part of your busi­ness itin­er­ary or dur­ing your free time, bring scarves, blouses that cover the upper arms and closed-toe shoes. “Global Busi­ness Eti­quette” rec­om­mends that when vis­it­ing Europe, you should bring good jew­elry; before vis­it­ing an area with public-safety issues, how­ever, leave jew­elry home to avoid attract­ing crim­i­nal attention.

Expert Insight

The more women inter­act with peo­ple and col­leagues in host nations, “the more they will increase their knowl­edge” of appro­pri­ate norms and behav­iors, note Mar­tin and Chaney, who also men­tion that in some locales women in busi­ness have a curios­ity fac­tor and “can gain access to higher-level man­agers more eas­ily than men.” It also helps to net­work with men­tors and expa­tri­ates, who can guide you in the many nuances of local busi­ness etiquette.


Ann Sabath notes that busi­ness eti­quette for women may change depend­ing on the local view of women in posi­tions of busi­ness author­ity. In the Czech Repub­lic, where few women are in decision-making roles, you will win accep­tance with con­ser­v­a­tive dress and behav­ior. In Den­mark, by con­trast, women can feel free to ini­ti­ate meet­ings and social engage­ments with men. Sim­i­larly, women in China are likely to be accepted on equal terms, accord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Commerce’s site. Britain lies some­where in the mid­dle. British men may cling to tra­di­tional atti­tudes about women and roles, so don’t be defen­sive if you are addressed as “deary,” “love” or “darling.”

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