The workforce needs to be “a lot less PC with each other” if we are to make progress with gender equality conversations.
That was the message of Abi Ijansami, director of legal and corporate affairs at Diamondair, speaking on the Leading the Industry panel of the inaugural Women in Travel & Tourism forum – for which TTG Media was media partner.
“A lot of men know there is a problem but don’t know practically how or what to do,” said moderator Veronica Velazquez, global lead of inclusion and diversity at Expedia Group.
“There’s a lot of paralysis of ‘I don’t want to say or do the wrong thing, or maybe step in if the woman doesn’t want the help’.”
Ijansami said: “If [a man has] said the wrong thing, let them know and why. Being scared to have those conversations is holding us back. We need to be a lot more open and practical and a lot less PC.”
Darshika Jones, finance director – Americas and EMEA, Intrepid Group, agreed “men need to be part of the conversation”.
“At the moment most leadership is tipped towards men, so they need to understand and be part of that change, otherwise it does become a gender issue as opposed to an inclusiveness issue. It’s also the most commercially viable thing to do.”
Olof Atladottir, director of destination marketing, the Red Sea Development Company, added there should be “multi- layered” discussions between public and private sectors – regardless of genders – to identify discrepancies in understanding.
Some of the male delegates agreed they could feel “paralysed” by the gender dialogue.
Atladottir added: “We sometimes victimise ourselves in the discourse and we need to move away from that.”
Look out for the 17 February issue of TTG for practical advice from the forum.