Women and non-binary individuals supported by new Male Allyship Network
by JoAnna Haugen
According to a recent PhocusWire article, women account for 54% of travel personnel worldwide, yet make up less than 20% of general management roles and less than 8% of board positions. A glass ceiling still clearly remains when it comes to the upper echelons of the tourism industry, but Women in Travel hopes to help shatter it with its Male Allyship Network.
“Men occupy most of the leadership positions in the industry and are often the gateway to promotion, opportunities, and career progress,” said Alessandra Alonso, founder of the UK-based social enterprise dedicated to empowering women in the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors. “It is important to get more male leaders involved in supporting all women and non-binary individuals by openly advocating for them, providing access to their network, sharing a different perspective, as well as tips on how to navigate the travel and tourism industry.”
Image Credit: Women in Travel
The Male Allyship Network launched at the virtual International Women in Travel & Tourism Forum held in May 2021. It is the first of its kind to offer mentorship and sponsorship to women, particularly those from underrepresented groups, by men.
Male Allyship Network participant Jeremy Sampson said the only way to change the imbalanced status quo in the tourism industry is for those in power to take action. “Research has shown that male allies and mentors are critical to supporting women in the workplace and will be a crucial component of shifting this paradigm once and for all,” said Sampson, chief executive officer at The Travel Foundation and chair of the Future of Tourism Coalition.
Twelve male senior leaders have committed to the pilot cohort. Alonso said she hopes up to 20 women and non-binary individuals will receive mentorship in the program’s first year.
Because this is the Network’s first year, it’s unclear how, exactly, it will progress. “I think this is the first step toward something bigger,” said Shaon Talukder, CEO and founder of Geotourist, and one of the 12 men participating in the program. “I think we want to learn more about what the specific challenges are. We don’t necessarily want to preach and say ‘here’s the solution,’ but we want to learn because we’re anticipating we’ll be taking as much away as the mentees.”
Sampson also acknowledged the importance of this “reverse mentorship” within the program. “This means we very intentionally take the time to listen to and understand the barriers and challenges women in our sector are facing when it comes to advancing into leadership positions or simply dealing with day-to-day challenges,” he said. “I hope that by listening and learning, I can become a better advocate for the systems change we want to see and the proactive actions it will require for us to get there."
JoAnna Haugen is an award winning writer, speaker, and solutions advocate who has worked in the travel and tourism industry for almost 15 years.
She is also founder of Rooted, a solutions platform at the intersection of sustainable tourism, social impact, and storytelling.
A returned U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, international election observer, and intrepid traveler, JoAnna is always on the hunt for her next great adventure.