Gender barrier Thinkstock
Sexism descrimination concept as a struggling woman with the burden of pulling a heavy female 3D illustration symbol falling behind a group of running businessmen or men as an unfair gender bias icon.

Does Your Company Walk the Diversity Talk?

Many workplaces pride themselves on being promoters of gender diversity and inclusion, but how many of our own employers have female leaders, managers, or CEOs?

If you were to list the names of your employer’s current senior leaders, how many of them would be female? How many meeting and travel industry companies actually walk the diversity talk? According to the 2016 Women in the Workplace report (a partnership between and McKinsey & Co.), women hold fewer than one in five C-suite positions.

Although the wage gap issue has received extensive media coverage and people continue to discuss equality in pay (#equalpay), where is the dialog around the glass ceiling in the travel industry?

Overall numbers specifically for the travel industry are hard to find; however, according to hospitality advisory firm AETHOS Consulting Group’s 2015 Hotel CEO Turnover Study, “No matter where you are in the world, the CEO is likely to be a man in his early 50s and degree-educated.”

The Centre for Aviation reported in 2015 that 94 percent of airlines are run by men. In 2010, there were 15 airlines that promoted women to the role of CEO or managing director. The number in 2015 was just 18.

When reviewing statistics for all industries on a global scale, female senior leadership stands at 24 percent, according to a March 2016 survey of more than 5,000 companies by Grant Thornton of London. The number of firms with no women in senior management positions is 33 percent.

“We know that businesses with diverse workforces can outperform their more homogenous peers and are better positioned to adapt to a rapidly changing global business environment,” Grant Thornton’s CEO, Sacha Romanovitch, told Forbes following release of the report. “Within the context of increased uncertainty and complexity, firms must resist group-think and welcome a range of perspectives in order to grow and meet the challenges of today.”

And in case you were wondering, Romanovitch is a woman.

The Grant Thornton report also finds that earning a higher salary is a larger motivator for women to seek leadership roles than it is for men (28 percent compared to 21 percent). And the overall skills needed to lead are also perceived differently: Women see listening and engaging in dialogue as necessary skills, while men are more likely to focus on the ability to broadcast messages.

Ready to change these numbers? WINiT membership is free, and WINiT has created a multitude of resources for those who are looking to build connections with female leaders or to hire female staff for their meeting and travel companies. The WINiT Career Board has a repository of searchable résumés from current members looking for new opportunities. If your company has open leadership positions, it’s a great place to start the search for a new hire with valuable industry experience. And if evaluating your company’s leadership prompts the desire for a change in your own career, upload your résumé to the site so that progressive companies can find you.

Changing what seems like an insurmountable issue can take time, but building the momentum to drive that change always starts with a single step.

Trisha Wheeler is a member of WINiT, a 2,800-member nonprofit organization founded in 2014 to support and empower women in the meeting, event, travel, and exhibition industries through access to career development opportunities and resources. Find out more.  

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