Attractions industry news

28 Nov 2023

Tourism think tank explores gender equity and male allyship

At a recent think tank, The Tourism Society hosted a panel overseen by its first female chair, Alison Cryer MBE, to discuss the importance of male allyship in the travel and tourism industry.

In an industry hit hard by the pandemic, women make up over 50 per cent of the workforce worldwide, yet remain underrepresented when it comes to decision-making and leadership roles.

It’s been two years since the WTTC Global Summit 2021 in Cancun, during which travel and tourism leaders committed to equality and female representation in leadership roles. This announcement, which led to the signing of the WTTC Cancun Women’s Declaration, set out key strategies to support women towards an equitable environment and enable them to thrive as leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Attendees heard how Women in Travel Cic began its male allyship programme in 2021 in direct response to this Women’s declaration and Alessandra Alonso, founder of the social enterprise, co-chaired the Tourism Society think tank.

During her time on the panel Alonso made a call to actions asking men in leadership positions to share their experience and privilege with female colleagues, to amplify the voices of women, non-binary and other minority groups and create a travel and tourism industry which is more equitable.

Alonso was joined on the panel by Jools Sampson, beneficiary of the male allyship programme and founder of Reclaim Yourself Retreats. Sampson discussed how her work with ally and mentor Shaon Talukder – entrepreneur and founder of Geotourist – helped her shift a mindset she believes had become stuck after 20 years running the business as a sole trader.

Sampson credits the programme and her work with Talukder for her post-pandemic survival, culminating in Reclaim Yourself being awarded the much sought after B-corp status in 2023.

When questioned about why men in senior roles aren’t engaging more with their female colleagues, Talukder noted that many of his male peers shied away from volunteering for this kind of role.

Given contemporary discourse around male privilege, he also mentioned a common apprehension amongst his colleagues: as white, middle class men, a fear of making a mistake, being cancelled, or considered part of the problem.

He also shared with the panel that he found his role as a mentor and role model transformative and necessary and is keen to encourage more men to share their knowledge, experiences and perspectives and open up their networks for women in the sector to rise up.

With the fastest growing sector in the industry being female solo travel, it’s vital for leaders in the industry to get on board with understanding the female psyche through more equitable representation in management.

Bolstered by the success of this year’s first ever allyship industry report, Women in Travel Cic will continue with its work educating future generations of travel and tourism leaders through continued allyship training and research in the sector.

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