Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Other than COVID, the world’s attention has largely focused on the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement this year, bringing discussions of inclusion & diversity to the forefront of all industries and prompting companies to examine what steps they can take to improve integration from various communities, including BAME, LGBTQ+, women and the disabled.
We attended a webinar organised by Travel Weekly and Lee Hayhurst, executive editor at Travolution discussed the topic with Jamie-Lee Abtar, executive director of BAME Women in Travel, Claire Osbourne, chair of the AWTE, and John Tanzella, chief executive of IGLTA. Here is what we have taken away from the session:
The ability of the travel industry to connect people, places and culture is in its DNA. Therefore, travel & tourism has the potential to be a role model for all other industry sectors.
Previous research has indicated that companies who are more diverse often have larger financial returns. It is therefore important for companies to focus on diversity & inclusivity not just as a social responsibility but also from a business perspective.
Whilst the travel industry is more diverse in lower paying roles, there is still an issue among more senior staff members with larger salaries and companies need to question why diversity is lacking in these higher paying roles. Representation matters and the industry must work to include different people in senior roles. If people are unable to see their peers in certain roles, it will be harder for them to believe that they can achieve that level of responsibilities themselves.
The industry cannot just wait for a new generation of role models to come through. It needs to look inwards now, identify their existing role models and showcase them to the rest of their employees. A good company should build confidence in individuals and provide them with the platform they need to showcase their skills and experience to others.
COVID has provided the tourism and travel industry with many virtual opportunities to be included, such as online education and networking platforms. These acted as growth enablers and they are deemed to stay post COVID.
It is essential for travel companies to understand the current climate, particularly with regards to young consumers as many of them wish to spend their money with socially responsible companies. Besides, social media platforms have created an outlet whereby individuals can call out and scrutinize companies, which can impact a business’s reputation and success significantly. This also filters down to recruitment, as potential employees will research the social responsibility side of a company before applying for a job.
If the travel industry does not use the time COVID has provided to examine what steps they can take to improve diversity and inclusivity within their company, then they are doing themselves a disservice. We can all do better. And we must continue to do better…
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