Reading through the results of the TTG LGBT survey, conducted in partnership with Out Now Business Class, was an emotional rollercoaster.
I was blown away with the progress in the industry’s working environment since I began my career in the early 1980s, and I was happy to see that there are many things to celebrate.
Not least that more than 80% of people working in travel believe the sector is progressive in its attitude towards the LGBT community.
Of course we have work to do, but the sterling work of TTG in keeping LGBT high on the agenda has resulted in many positives.
In my own working life, I increasingly find that reaching more LGBT travellers is naturally part of the sales and marketing mix of our trade partners, and requests for training in selling to an LGBT audience are on the up.
I could be cynical and think that the much-lauded “pink pound” is simply luring businesses to reap the rewards of the LGBT market, especially in the midst of uncertain economic conditions.
But I like to think more philosophically than that. Being a good business is important to most business leaders.
Not only do our customers recognise when strong ethics run through the veins of an organisation, but good businesses also attract the best talent.
It was impressive to note that more than 30% of the 600-plus respondents were in senior management roles and therefore decision makers and example setters.
I am sometimes asked if it is easier to be out about your sexuality when you are more senior.
That answer is probably yes, but I am acutely aware that actions and statements when in leadership roles are far more closely scrutinised.
I also know that I can set a precedent, a role I don’t take lightly.
There is no doubt people perform better when they can be themselves in a supportive and nurturing environment. I know from experience that this is true, having had roles in the past where I was not openly out.
The company I have worked for longest and achieved ongoing progression – and had some of the most fun – is where I am totally open.
I am proud of the senior executive team at Celebrity Cruises, and our broader Royal Caribbean family, for their commitment to establish a dedicated Diversity and Inclusion team.
Most recently, our business rolled out a “Free to be Me” programme, promoting all areas of diversity across all our global offices and ships.
I certainly appreciate the amazing people around me who have empowered me to be myself.
One of the founding objectives of the TTG LGBT initiative was to nurture more allies. It is heartening to read in the study that 87% of those taking part in the research consider themselves “straight allies”.
Our industry needs a bit of everybody and everyone to keep making progress in LGBT inclusion.
The rollercoaster ride faced by LGBT people at work and at home isn’t over, but I’m proud to be part of a sector where the ups certainly outweigh the downs.