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Only 5% of CEOs are Female in Tourism

Female CEOs

Not even one-fifth of all C-suite roles are filled by women. In fact, only 5% of all CEOs are female – even though half of the employees in the travel and tourism industry are women.

This is revealed in a new report by World Tourism Forum Lucerne and Aptamind Partners, which also presents sustainable solutions and specific recommendations on how to improve diversity and inclusion. 

The figures shown in the latest report by World Tourism Forum Lucerne and Aptamind Partners are stark: Despite an equal presence in the total workforce, female representation falls to 40% at mid-level management and 33% in senior management. In the Executive Committee/C-suite, 19% of roles are filled by women, with only five organisations led by a female CEO. This is echoed at board level, where 24% of board members are women and 8% of boards include no women at all. The report examined the top 100 listed companies in the travel and tourism industry worldwide.

Systemic inequalities peaked during the pandemic; now is the right time to redress discriminatory organisational cultures

With the COVID crisis, systemic inequalities have increased even more. Women are disproportionately represented in sectors that have been negatively affected by COVID-19, such as hospitality, travel, and retail.  

“We need to use the current pandemic to dismantle gender stereotypes, change our organisational culture and make an even stronger commitment to empower women in every sector”, says Prof. Martin Barth, President and CEO of World Tourism Forum Lucerne.

“Ultimately, more diversity leads to better quality decisions, which in turn lead to better results.”

Diversity and Inclusion is one of the World Tourism Forum Lucerne’s four pillars. The organisation offers excellent platforms for addressing international stakeholders and leading personalities on the topic of diversity and inclusion, such as its “Think Tank”, a “Next Generation Leaders Day”, a “Talent Boost” and its “Start-up Innovation Camps”. 

An invisible glass ceiling - high potential for the cruise and airlines sectors

While 24% of C-suite executives at food and beverage companies are women – the highest proportion in the industry – the cruise sector lags behind with only 10% and airlines at 15%. Hotels have the highest proportion of female board members at 29%, and casinos and entertainment firms bring up the rear with 19% female representation. 

“While many organisations are working on promising solutions and have taken significant steps to address gender diversity, it has not resulted in accelerating gender diversity into a collective, cohesive movement that motivates action at scale. The push to disclose diversity data is only going to gain momentum post-pandemic and companies who do their bit to move the needle and course correct will win in the long term”, said Aradhana Khowala, CEO and Founder of Aptamind Partners and Board Member at World Tourism Forum Lucerne.

Specific solutions to promote diversity and inclusion

The results show very clearly that there is a need for action. The author of the report outlines specific recommendations on how to overcome existing gender inequalities. “Private companies need to make a stronger commitment to step up their diversity and inclusion efforts. We’re planning further studies, joint initiatives with the industry, concrete action plans, a diversity index and consulting, together with interested partners. We welcome new partnerships that want to join us on this journey”, says Martin Barth.

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