WTTC launches Women’s Initiative to drive equality in leadership roles

WTTC Cancun Women's Declaration signed at Global Summit

Credit: Alchemia Mexico/Facebook

Travel & Tourism leaders have pledged to work towards women’s equality and boost female representation in leadership roles. The commitment came at this week’s World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Cancun, Mexico.

The WTTC, which represents the Travel & Tourism private sector, launched its Women’s Initiative with the help of 18 Grand Slam singles title winner, Martina Navratilova.

WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara unveiled the public-private-academic partnership to promote diversity and drive inclusivity which will help lead the way to achieving equality for women throughout Travel & Tourism.

The alliance led to the signing of the WTTC Cancun Women’s Declaration to support women, which recognised their contribution around the world and the importance of an equal equitable environment to enable them to thrive as leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

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The drive committed signatories to provide equal opportunities for women by removing barriers, ensuring fair treatment, and encouraging greater financial, professional, and social independence.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “As the first female President and CEO of WTTC, it is an honour to champion this important initiative. The pledge made today with the launch of the first Women’s Initiative in Travel & Tourism by a combination of the private, public and academic sectors to work towards women’s equality, marks a significant step forward.

“Globally, women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic which has exacerbated the pay gap, the opportunity gap and the shocking lack of senior positions and leadership roles across the Travel & Tourism sector.

“This needs to be changed,” Guevara said.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC

“WTTC research shows women play a vital role and represented 54% of Travel & Tourism’s employment worldwide. Yet while more than half the sector is accounted for by women, all too few occupy any senior or strategic roles.

“Therefore, I’m delighted to share a platform today with one of the world’s greatest ever tennis players, Martina Navratilova, to help launch WTTC’s ground-breaking Women’s Initiative.”

Gloria Guevara addresses the audience at the WTTC Global Summit in Cancun | credit: Sria de Turismo Quintana/Twitter

Navratilova said, “Women have always had to outperform men, and whilst things are changing for the better, it is still a fight and a constant battle.”

“Change happens much quicker when it comes from the top. Companies would be more profitable if more women were in positions of power and boardrooms were less homogenous and reflected the diversity of their customers.

“As an advocate for women’s rights, I know every act we take will help change the lives of women everywhere and make the world a fairer and better place.”

For the private sector in the short term, the Women’s Initiative has two core elements; developing skills and creating formal sponsorship and mentorship programs for young women in business.

It will encourage women to bring in new ideas and skills to broaden the wealth of experience and expertise from women at all levels across the entire Travel & Tourism sector.

Senior women leaders will also be empowered to become mentors and share their skills and experience with the next generation of female Travel & Tourism leaders to nurture and develop new talent.

Where possible, companies will also be asked to assign a senior executive or Board member to be a sponsor for gender diversity and inclusion, who is accountable for progress.

The private sector pledged to increase female representation of leadership positions by 30-50% and aim toward increasing by a third, the representation of women to board levels and C-suites, by 2030.

There will also be a commitment to identify opportunities to reduce any gender pay gaps and implement gender diverse slate requirement for all open roles and to each year share progress and publish an action plan to achieve their goals.

According to WTTC data, in 2019 before the pandemic struck, the Travel & Tourism sector accounted for 10.4% of global GDP and supported the livelihoods of 334 million people.

Donald named new WTTC Chair, accolade for Kent

Meanwhile also at the Global Summit, the WTTC named Carnival Corporation President and CEO, Arnold Donald, as the organisation’s new Chair. Donald, who was a Co-Vice Chair, will replace Christopher Nassetta, Hilton President & CEO, who held the role for the past three years.

Separately, Abercrombie & Kent Founder, Geoffrey Kent, was bestowed with the Global Icon Award at the Summit, and made an Honorary Member of WTTC. Kent was a founding member of the World Travel & Tourism Council and has attended every summit for the past 30 years ago.

“I’m so proud to be a part of this organisation and to have made wonderful friends who are just as passionate about travel as I am,” Kent said on social media.

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