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May 04, 2021

2021 Global Tourism Summit: Gender equality in the industry becomes key focus

2021 Global Tourism Summit: Gender equality in the industry becomes key focus

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Cancun last month focused on empowering and improving the role women play in travel and tourism leadership positions. The event, which was a hybrid of an in-person and virtual conference, had an international attendance of nearly 600 travel leaders and CEOs. Crucially, it was an opportunity for WTTC leaders to launch the Cancun Women’s Declaration. The new initiative to promote equality for females in the travel and tourism industry was announced by Martina Navratilova, WTTC President, and CEO Gloria Guevara who is the first woman to hold the position.

IZA World of Labor contributor Antti Kauhanen writes that research has proved that gender differences in careers can be due to difference in work experience and career breaks, hours worked, discrimination, and preferences and psychological attributes, amongst others. In his article Kauhanen highlights that one possible step toward achieving gender equality is for future “firm-level policies to effectively reduce the non-linearity between hours and wages. For example, new information and communication technologies may make it feasible to redesign jobs so that tasks can be shared more easily between workers.” “All developed countries have legislation prohibiting gender discrimination in the labor market. At the same time, subtle barriers to women's career progress still exist,” he adds.

More than 100 companies, destinations, and industry leaders pledged their support for the declaration which recognizes the “importance of an equal, equitable environment to enable them to thrive as leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators.” Hilton, Carnival Corporation, Expedia, IHG, and Barcelona Tourism among others committed to helping to “remove barriers, ensuring fair treatment, and encouraging greater financial, professional, and social independence.” Some of the tactics include creating sponsorship, mentoring, and skill development programs for young women in business.

Private sector signatories agreed that by 2030 female representation in leadership positions needs to increase by 30–50% and that the number of female corporate executives and board members needs to increase by a third by the same year. Another key focus will be the improvement of the gender pay gap. IZA World of Labor author Boris Hirsch has consulted the evidence and has found that “monopsonistic” wage discrimination, where employers exploit their wage-setting power over women, is to a large extent to blame for persisting wage differences between men and women. “Employers profit from discriminating against women whose labor supply to the single employer is less sensitive to wages,” Hirsch writes in his article. He adds that since the practice raises employers’ profits, “it is likely to be widespread and to persist in the long term.”