Jeannette Linfoot, board-level business advisor and everywoman in Travel Awards judge, explains:
It’s hard to believe that in 2018 – one hundred years since the first women got the right to vote in the UK – we are still talking about the lack of gender diversity at senior levels and in the boardroom.
Women make up nearly 70% of the workforce in the travel industry, yet there is a marked under-representation of women in senior positions: less than 40% of all managerial positions, less than 20% of general management roles and a meagre 5-8% of board positions.
And yet the recent Women in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure report showed that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have above-average financial returns. For every 10% increase in gender diversity, profit rose by 3.5%. The case is clear – businesses that have a good gender balance at all levels, perform better than those that don’t.
The government’s Hampton Alexander review has set a target of 33% female representation across boards and executive committees by 2020, so we have some way to go.
There are two sides to this. Businesses need to do more to create the right environment – with initiatives to achieve gender diversity – while women also need to help themselves.
Diversity and inclusion strategies need to be led from the very top.
A good example of a company doing just that is easyJet. While currently only 6% of pilots are female, the airline’s board has set a target to increase this to 12%, and is actively taking steps to make that happen.
Women in business need to surround themselves with the right people, take inspiration from positive role models, get themselves a mentor or coach and – most importantly – be brave and push themselves forward.