July 16, 2024

Report on disability and business travel paints ‘stark picture’

Two thirds of disabled professionals say they are unable to participate in business travel due to their disability, according to a report out this week from American Express Global Business Travel.

The Censuswide poll of 500 disabled professionals in the UK, carried out in June 2024, also found 61% have had to cancel crucial trips because of insurmountable accessibility issues.

As many as 50% of respondents said they had declined a job offer due to travel requirements associated with the role, which they felt they couldn’t meet.

Nearly half of those surveyed (48%) believe there is a lack of awareness of their needs while 37% have had disheartening encounters with rudeness or prejudice during journeys.

Almost two-thirds (63%) expressed the belief that able-bodied colleagues progress faster in their careers because travel is more accessible to them and nearly three-quarters (74%) of disabled professionals consider business travel crucial for career progression.

Almost a third of respondents (31%) expressed that view that hotel accommodation is inadequate for the needs of disabled travellers.

Andrew Crawley, President of Amex GBT, said: “The statistics paint a stark picture. The benefits of business travel for both the employer and employee are clear – deals are completed more efficiently and collaboration and networking are much more meaningful face-to-face.

“There are around 9.5 million people of working age with a disability in the UK, but only 5.1 million are employedEmployers who prioritise the needs of people with disabilities are accessing a significant talent pool that others are missing out on.”

Accessibility advocate Derek Moxam, an Agent Coach at Amex GBT, added: “There are an array of career barriers facing people with disabilities, particularly as it relates to business travel and meetings attendance.

“I’ve encountered many of the challenges identified in the survey: a lack of awareness and understanding of my needs, inadequate accommodations and services, and the lack of standardisation and experience between airlines, hotels, ground transport and ground services. These obstacles can be incredibly discouraging and limit our professional and personal growth.”

Respondents suggested improvements such as working with travel companies that have built accessibility support (29%), ensuring contingency plans are in place in case of disruption (27%), and providing detailed travel plans with information and pictures of accessible modifications (19%).

Last year Amex GBT began working with IBM as its first customer for its new global accessibility solution for business travellers.

The end-to-end accessibility solution supports travellers with visible and invisible disabilities, including with onboarding, booking, trip disruption and traveller preferences.