Why are women in leadership positions in the travel industry so rare?

How does the saying “what gets measured gets done”? This means that the act of measuring can help us achieve the desired results.

If the goal of the travel industry is to achieve diversity and we know that people tend to recruit in their image (see combine and HBR, for example), setting diversity goals and measuring our performance against them makes sense and matters.

In a world where most of the top executives, executives, directors and board members are still predominantly white males, I think targets have a role to play.

As a co-founder of Clink Hostels and as a woman, what I find appealing is that the diversity of the board and management is not only fair, but it also leads to profitability. . According to a McKinsey & Company 2018 paper, “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in leadership teams were 21% more likely to outperform in terms of profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation.”

Diversity within the team translates into less “group thinking” and more innovation.

Anne Dolan

Plus, women are the driving force behind 70-80% of all buying decisions, says Bridget Brennan in a 2015 Forbes magazine. item. As Brennan puts it, “If the consumer economy had a gender, it would be female.

To this I would add that women represent 54% of travel staff in the world. However, they reconcile less than 20% of general management positions and less than 8% of management positions in industry.

This begs the question: why are women in leadership positions in the travel industry so rare?

In the late 90s my sister and I had the opportunity to open a 170 bed hostel in London and I fell in love with the travel industry, especially the economy sector. For me, hostels represent a community in which we support each other; there is a fair sense to everything – hostels make big cities affordable for all budgets. Likewise, I like to think that Clink, as a workplace, is also a community where opportunities are available to everyone.

So how can our industry do better? What can we do to promote more diversity and more roles for women in management teams and on boards?

Although I am not an academic expert in this area, I am very proud to say that at Clink we have a 50:50 ratio within our leadership team and at the board level, and we do that. maintain proactively. I will share with you here how we do it and the benefits it brings to our business.

Challenge the status quo

At Clink, we actively seek gender equality when recruiting, and we did this even before we had a diversity and inclusion policy. When we see that a department has a strong gender focus, we stop and ask, “What can we do to balance this? Above all, we are aware that opinion leaders on diversity encourage recruitment based on potential rather than experience.

Another approach we have taken is to encourage all of our team members who start their careers with us to seek out the management team, who are there to coach, guide and mentor. We believe this helps empower women, and with a 50:50 executive team, we also act, I like to think of it, as positive role models.

We are not afraid to question the status quo. Recently our COO pointed out that a company we were considering using as a supplier only had white males on its board. My response was to encourage our director of operations to ask the company about its diversity policy. I like to be honest with my peers in the hospitality industry; When I know that their leadership teams and boards of directors remain predominantly male, I ask them what kind of future they want to create and how they plan to achieve it given the productivity benefits of diversity.

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There is now a wealth of evidence demonstrating that “greater gender diversity makes companies more adaptable, more productive and more responsive to what their customers tell them”. At Clink, we’ve learned that team diversity translates into less “group thinking” and more innovation – we’re the first hostel in Europe to introduce an end-to-end virtual check-in experience. .

And, yes, being responsive to the needs of our customers is important to us. Last year our CEO, Mark Fenelon, spearheaded a campaign called “Shut Up and Listen”. After polling our customers, we found that 86% of travelers between the ages of 18 and 39 think companies should do more to challenge current social, political and environmental issues. We have become more and more aware that our customers look and notice businesses that reflect their values, and this inspired us to start our journey to be the first hostel brand to reach. Certified B Corporation status.

We may not be perfect, but I can say with confidence that at Clink we do very well when it comes to gender equality, and our experience and the lessons we have learned can be of use to others.

That said, we still have a lot to improve in terms of achieving diversity in terms of the representation of the BAME (black, Asian and ethnic minority) and LGTBQ + communities with people with disabilities. Again, I repeat that goals can help. I know a common response to that is to say, “You should hire someone on their own merit. Setting diversity goals, however, is not a barrier to merit-based employment; rather, it challenges us to question the traditional hiring process and our unconscious biases. It is not about rejecting “merit” – quite the contrary. Goals can help broaden the talent pool, allowing the industry to find talent and “merits” that it might otherwise have missed.

And if you don’t agree with me, think about what Project Castell President Peggy Berg has to say about the future of the hospitality industry: “The most successful companies in the new post-pandemic market will be companies with diverse leadership. ”

It is a win-win at all levels, a winner for diversity and a winner for sustainable profitability.

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