Special Report: Initiative targets pay parity for women

Gender GapIndustry urged to support government campaign to end gender inequality in the workplace. By Juliet Dennis

Women 1st is encouraging travel and tourism businesses to sign up to a government campaign to improve gender equality in the workplace.

The organisation, which is part of People 1st – the sector skills council for hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism – has already enlisted Tui Travel, easyJet and Advantage to the Think, Act, Report project, launched by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport two years ago.

Director Simone Roche said Women 1st decided to champion the cause because of the lack of support from travel companies.

“We are trying to get everyone to sign up,” she said. “We have an opportunity to think differently about how we employ our staff.

“If we can get gender pay parity, it will make our industry more attractive to work in.”

According to Think, Act, Report, women in full-time positions in the UK earned, on average, 9.6% less than men in 2012.

In 2011, full-time female travel agents earned about 4% less than their male counterparts, according to Women in the Tourism and Visitor Economy (2013) – People 1st report. Full-time female hotel managers/owners earn 33% less.

Encouraging transparency

The campaign encourages businesses to be more transparent on gender equality at work and take action if pay parity is absent.

Helen Grant, minister for sport, tourism and equalities, said: “Some of the top travel, tourism and hospitality organisations have already signed up to Think, Act, Report. They recognise the importance of transparency as a way of recruiting, promoting and retaining female talent. But it would be fantastic to have the whole sector on board, showing real leadership in this field.”

The Advantage Travel Partnership managing director Julia Lo Bue-Said said the consortium had signed up because she felt “passionate” about diversity in the workplace.

“There are still companies that take a dim view of young women because they will get married and pregnant,” she said. “For me, having parents as staff in the business brings different skills.”

Taking a lead

EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall commended the campaign’s work so far.

“The most sustainable way to ensure women hold key roles in leadership teams is to have a strong pyramid of women coming up through an organisation,” she said.

About 30% of easyJet’s 200 executive managers are female, as are four of the 11 members of the management board.

McCall said it made business sense to have a better gender balance. “Companies that do will better reflect the needs of their consumers and their own employees, a large proportion of whom will be female,” she added.

Signing up has already helped Advantage create the right image as a good employer, added Lo Bue-Said. “I have seen Helen Grant mention Advantage when speaking publicly. It makes me proud to have high-profile MPs talking about Advantage taking this issue seriously.”




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