One thing for sure is changing in tourism: now there is an Award just for the best gender projects.
The grand finale, on the 8th of March, has been the celebration of the first ever Champion for Gender Equality in Tourism, awarded by the non-profit organisation Equality in Tourism in cooperation with ITB and Hospitality Alliance.
<< We wanted to be a learning process, simple and effective- said Stroma Cole of Equality in Tourism- but also to support people to better integrate gender into their policies and practices, to send a message of integrity, of gender more equal in the industry, now that all concept of gender has been redefined and it is clear that there is no sustainability without gender equality. And indeed we had plenty of competitors>>.
The winner was the tour operator Travel Excellence from Costa Rica, followed by Adventure Women from the USA and Etur from Ecuador. Travel Excellence, an amazing company, already awarded as the first gender quality company in Costa Rica, is a leading tourism company caring for innovation, quality and social responsibility, but also “feeling the goal to reach”, as the account manager Mareike Wielens said receiving the award on stage. It’s the first tour operator where 58% of managers and 60% of workers are women and the first who built a plan to find a way to reduce the gender gap, adjust the internal rules and the hiring process, helping to change workplace culture with a sexual harassment committee, masculinity workshops, balance within work and family, revision of income, mentoring and workshops about the gender bias.
The runner-up Adventure Women is an all-women tour operator creating experiences with women for 40 years, with a focus on connecting guests and locals, to travel with female guides, seeing other women’s life, purchasing their goods, embracing other cultures and overcoming challenges.
Etur, on the third podium step, is also a surprise: a small tour operator with an enormous program based mainly on women’s work and a large platform of local people in 12 communities and a strong ethical goal: from a reforestation program to gastronomy to well being and bird watching tours. At least 52 per cent of the operators are women, ensuring equal opportunities to all in terms of work times, recruiting, remuneration, selection, promotion, and procedures against sexual harassment.
With such an interesting representation, the discussion was enormously interesting. First of all, Glenn Mandziuk – CEO of Hospitality Alliance- set boundaries starting from being inspiring to other hotels industry and businesses, to starting to tell the story, to be forward as a society that has equality as a cornerstone, and is not there yet.
“In such a hard industry, these awards put more confidence in small entrepreneurs, - said Dominica Barahona of Etur-, because small companies learn that you can be confident, that you are doing something that is important to everyone”.
Then Maud Masiyiwa of the Meadowlands Tourism Development Centre in Soweto, South Africa, who was one of the jury members, added: << It is important to have female leaders, women in leadership will always find a way to keep in the staff, a way to stay on, they are multi-skilled, driven to the sisterhood, to see another woman step in my shoes, how do I get you to come and not break those doors, it is a great opportunity to insure that women in tourism are motivated. Networking is very useful, it is difficult for women after hours, because after 7 pm only men are there to speak and women have gone home. On a cultural basis, in some countries, you cannot step out. So you got to be able to utilize these organisations that are set up for you as a global village with an intention, you can get information, breaking these barriers. Next step, we need the public sector to show up on the floor>>.
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