A new programme to bolster mentorship and sponsorship of women, particularly those from underrepresented groups, has been backed by more than 30 senior male travel leaders.
The new cross-industry Male Allyship Network was launched at the first virtual International Women in Travel & Tourism Forum during a male allyship roundtable hosted by TTG CEO Dan Pearce.
Supported by battleface, more than 30 travel leaders took part, including dnata’s John Bevan, Jeremy Sampson from the Travel Foundation, Tui’s Toby Horry and Google’s Finnbar Cornwall.
Hugh King, battleface’s director of business development UK and Europe, hailed the "frank, open and honest discussion" which formed part of the forum’s five-day agenda.
"I was pleased to hear about the excellent programmes already ongoing to address diversity, equality and inclusivity throughout various travel organisations around the world," said King.
"However, there was a strong will and desire to do even more; to challenge the status quo further. The Male Allyship Network was universally agreed as a superb concept to engage, embrace and enrich the talent of women no matter their background, diversity, disability, orientation or ethnicity."
King added the network’s ambition was to encourage more women to forge successful careers in travel, and to both aspire to – and attain – senior leadership and board level roles in the industry.
The forum, organised by social enterprise Women in Travel CIC, was held over 10-15 May and sought to stimulate discussions leading to tangible solutions to accelerate diversity, gender balance and inclusion.
Keynote speaker Laura Storm, founder of Regenerators and a World Economic Forum young global leader, set the tone, calling on travel to embrace "regenerative leadership" to further the industry’s sustainable tourism agenda. She urged delegates to embrace the mantra that no longer can new problems be solved with old solutions.
Storytelling was the focus of day two, with delegates hearing from two of Urban Adventures’ female tour guides, who were trained as part of a collaboration between the brand’s parent – Intrepid Travel – and Women in Travel.
Other focuses for the week’s programme included the intersection of travel and technology, innovation in recruitment, and efforts to champion diversity in travel and how this could be achieved.
Alessandra Alonso, founded of Women in Travel CIC, said: "The forum provided a space for the industry to come together to share ways to rebuild and reinvent the sector, and I’m delighted this year’s event resulted in tangible actions to change the way the travel industry gets back to business and does travel differently. The fact that more than 350 men and women across the world attended this event demonstrates the time is right for that change."
Alonso said the three tangible actions Women in Travel would take forward in 2021 as a direct result of forum input and feedback are:
Alonso added: "I do hope those who feel the travel industry has not reflected their interests or listened to them in the past will now get in touch and get involved with Women in Travel, and more men will get in touch to express an interest in joining this inaugural male network.
"Your input is necessary to really embrace the change that is so desperately needed to transform the direction of recruitment and retention within the travel industry.”