Travel & Tourism is probably the most vibrant and exciting global industry of all. Taking in all its constituent parts, the latest estimates from the World Tourism Organisation suggest it employs directly or indirectly an extraordinary one out of every 10 people on the planet.
Employing workers across airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, hotels, travel agencies, or on the ground via tourist boards and local tourist attractions, travel and tourism truly brings people together. Introducing different cultures, fostering new understandings and sparking new relationships, travel should be the most diverse industry of all.
Yet speaking for us here in the UK and Ireland, it simply isn’t. The travel workplace has some way to go if it is going to take full advantage of the benefits that come from a truly diverse and inclusive culture.
This is something that has become wholly apparent to me in attending countless travel and tourism events, including many in aviation, over the past decade.
What is diversity and inclusion anyway? The definition that we are working to at TTG Media was recently agreed for a research piece we have been carrying out with PwC:
- Diversity is where everyone is respected as individuals and valued for the different perspectives they bring
- Inclusion is where everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to business success and fulfil their potential
They sound like values that every business would want to live up to in 2019. Most businesses do undoubtedly have the best of intentions – but the same research piece has revealed that the actions of businesses in the travel and tourism sector are not matching their intentions.
Some people say travel is a predominantly female industry – and that may well be true, however it’s certainly not at board level where fewer than 25% of board members are female.
Others may say travel is an open, all-embracing industry, with an entrepreneurial culture, but how does that explain the severe lack of ethnically diverse attendees at travel industry conferences, where non-white attendees usually number fewer than 5%?
Many companies will claim they take diversity and inclusion seriously, with a significant number setting out their policies on their websites and more employing their own diversity and inclusion officers or teams. Yet as stated, our research suggests there is still a significant gap between their intentions and what they are actually achieving.
There is a growing awareness that diversity in the workplace is an area that travel companies, including those in the aviation sector need to get better at. Understanding the practical measures that can be made in this area, and the many reasons why more travel businesses should make them, are the next steps.
TTG Media wants to drive this change, and I’m delighted to be chairing a diversity session at the Aviation Festival on September 6th to be able to discuss this area further.
Another way is through our own first TTG Diversity & Inclusion in Travel conference happening in London this July. We recently rebranded our 66-year-old travel media business under a new vision to promote a Smarter, better, fairer travel industry. Pushing for real change in diversity and inclusion is one key way in which we intend to help make that happen.
It’s high time, after all.