Examining the Statistics of Women in Leadership: A Focus on Leisure Industry
Despite awareness campaigns, affirmative action, and policy shifts, gender inequality remains prevalent in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries. Women continue to be significantly underrepresented in C-Suite and board positions, even though gender equality is crucial for companies and industries to thrive in an increasingly competitive market. Waiting for history to correct itself is no longer an option.
Many companies in the travel and tourism industries have laudable and ambitious goals and initiatives in place to address the gender imbalance. However, these efforts often fall short of leading to real change. For example, a company may aim for gender parity on their board, but if the selection process is biased or the pipeline of potential female candidates lacks diversity, the goal will remain unattainable. It is our hope that this research will provide the necessary incentives for policymakers, management, active investors, and boards to make gender equality a larger reality in the travel and tourism sector. It’s high time we prioritize this issue.
The pandemic had a significant impact on women in the leisure sector, but it is not the only factor responsible for the lack of progress in gender diversity. Prior to the pandemic, only a quarter of companies disclosed their gender pay gap data, indicating a severe lack of reporting. Additionally, established recruiting practices for C-suite and boardroom positions create blind spots that prevent women from breaking the glass ceiling, resulting in an inadequate pipeline of qualified female candidates for top jobs. The current “Great Resignation” further exacerbates this issue by making younger people less interested in pursuing careers in hospitality.
Aptamind Partners conducted research, with support from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), based on publicly available data from major hotel groups, casinos, and entertainment companies. The study found that the gender gap in the leisure industry becomes more pronounced as you move up the career ladder. While the leisure industry’s overall workforce has a 50 percent gender balance, the percentage of women drops to 42 percent in mid-level management and 33 percent in senior management, as highlighted in the report “The Numbers Behind Women in Leadership: Leisure.” At the C-suite level, only one in five executives are women, indicating a significant disparity.
While progress has been made in increasing the percentage of women on leisure company boards from 11% in 2007 to 28% today, there is still a long way to go for gender parity. The recruitment process often relies on personal and professional networks of existing board members, which tilts the competition in favor of men. This must be addressed to ensure the pipeline of potential female leaders expands.
Interestingly, leisure companies in developed markets have a higher proportion of women on their boards than those in emerging markets, but the situation is the opposite in senior leadership. To move towards greater parity, companies should expand their selection processes, recruit and appoint women with greater diversity of skills and attributes, and strengthen their overall governance practices.
The pandemic had a disproportionate impact on women in the hotel sector, with 18% of all women losing their jobs. To mitigate against these impacts and continue progress towards gender diversity targets, organizations should provide support for working parents, implement policies that support flexible and remote work, and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion to create an inclusive culture that supports the growth and development of all employees.
To address the glass ceiling that women face at the CEO and chair level in hotels, companies must prioritize building a strong pipeline of female senior leaders who can eventually become candidates for the CEO position. Moreover, measurement, reporting, and accountability must be extended to all companies, not just the high performers. A change in mindset, active efforts to seek and value diversity, and transparency are essential for achieving sustained progress towards gender diversity in leadership positions.
First of all, it’s crucial to understand that gender diversity is more than just having more women in positions of leadership. The goal is to establish a setting where everyone, regardless of gender identification, feels heard, appreciated, and included. This entails encouraging diversity at all organizational levels, from entry-level jobs to the C-suite.
Second, for businesses and sectors to succeed in the long run, gender diversity in leadership positions is essential. According to research, businesses with more diverse leadership teams typically outperform their less diverse competitors. This is so that more creative and inventive solutions can be produced by diverse teams, which bring a wider variety of viewpoints and experiences to the table.
Thirdly, encouraging gender diversity is not only morally right, but also advantageous to business. Businesses that place a high priority on diversity and inclusion typically have happier employees, less staff turnover issues, and happier clients. They also have a tendency to be more resilient during crises since they may use a wider variety of views to overcome obstacles.
Fourth, given their influence and global reach, the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors offer a special potential to promote gender diversity. These businesses can support worldwide positive social change by putting a high priority on gender diversity and inclusion.
Last but not least, it’s critical to understand that gender diversity promotion involves continual labor rather than a one-time effort. Businesses must monitor their development, establish new goals, and hold themselves accountable for attaining them. An organization must recognize and combat bias and discrimination, foster an inclusive and inclusive culture, and be open and upfront about its diversity data in order to achieve this. By doing this, both inside and outside of the workplace, businesses may contribute to the development of a more just and equal society.
Contact us today to learn how we can help your business find and hire diverse talent and build a more inclusive workplace. Together, we can create a better future for all.
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