Me Too – Sexual Harassment On the Road

“Me too.”

It’s the biggest reason we founded Go Jane Go. Because it was every time, all the time. Because no one was talking about it when it impacted life on the road during business travel.

I was groped at a tradeshow.  Kate was cornered in an empty hotel elevator.  Sanj was followed at an airport. We are propositioned regardless of what we wear and how we act. We have been let down by the coworkers and supervisors we’ve traveled with that – on first impression – were “good” or “just nice.” Like everyone else, we assumed it was just something we had to put up with.

One would think while women are out there on the road making millions for the companies we represent, maybe – just maybe – we all would acknowledge the ethos of road warrior respect. Instead, we often find it somehow implies that the rules don’t apply.  Or maybe we’re just not reading the same rule book.

When nearly one-third of female business travelers reports being sexually harassed on the road, one thing is made incredibly clear: we can never escape it. We are objectified no matter how much or how little we accomplish, no matter how well or poorly we’re dressed.

“Excuse me, this isn’t YOUR seat, is it?”

“Mind if I join you? Hate seeing a woman eating alone.”

And like countless others have said before us: we are SO. VERY. TIRED.

Imagine how much more work women could do if we didn’t have to deal with sexual harassment. How much better might our work be, how much more energy would we have at the end of the day for our families and partners… just if we weren’t dealing with what amounts to an albatross around our necks every time we step out the door?

In the last year of working on Go Jane Go, we have met business women who carry concealed weapons when they’re on the road because they want to be ready just in case. We’ve met countless more who just become prisoners in their hotel rooms, afraid to hit even the hotel bar for fear of being a target in a sea of men in suits and golf shirts.

In the meantime, consider how hard it would be for men to get sh*t done on the road if we put psychological and often physical obstacles in their way. Corporations would take notice.

If one-third of all men who travel for business went to their employers and said they had to deal with relentless physical and emotional intimidation – that they feared for their safety– you bet corporations would care.

Women feel this way and live it every day.  And we here at Go Jane Go know because we have talked to thousands of female business travelers. But at the end of the day, here’s what’s inconceivable: we have done our jobs well the whole time.

Our hope is that Go Jane Go will be a place where women can continue to be honest about sexual harassment on the road as well all the other craziness that goes down on business travel.  Maybe now that we are finally all talking about it, things will get better.  Maybe when our daughters are in our business class seats and someone says, “I have a corporate network that supports businesswomen on the road”; they can say; “#metoo'”.

So yeah. Me too.

Journey On, Janes.

Kate,  Ellen, and Sanjana

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Ellen is the CEO and co-head writer for Go Jane Go. She has traveled for business for over 25 years, lived and worked abroad, and speaks German. And all she knows for sure is that she never liked working for someone else – so that’s part of why her sister Kate and she started Go Jane Go – so she could work for herself and make business travel better for legions of women like her.
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