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Intrepid Travel’s Women Tackling Gender Equality in Tourism

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To commemorate International Women’s Day, Intrepid Travel—the world’s largest B Corp adventure travel company—is celebrating significant, ground-breaking initiatives women in its business are actioning for a more equitable tourism industry in 2021, during a difficult year for the industry.

Photo Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

To root travel’s recovery in equality and sustainability, the three women—Dr. Susanne Etti, environmental impact specialist; Zina Bencheikh, managing director in EMEA; and Intrepid’s Chief People and Purpose Officer Natalie Kidd—are respectively focusing on intersectionality between climate change and female empowerment, collaborative product that supports women in travel, and corporate initiatives that foster diversity and inclusivity.

“Intrepid Travel recognizes the important contributions women make as decision makers, educators and experts at all levels in its business and the tourism industry,” said Natalie Kidd, Intrepid Travel’s chief people and purpose officer. “This year, we’re continuing to champion the women within our business who’re making significant achievements for inclusivity and equality, which has not only made our business better but set a precedent for an industry focused on sustainability in 2021, led by women.”

The key initiative spearheaded by these three women include:

Dr. Susanne Etti – Intrepid

1. Empowering women to tackle climate change (Led by Intrepid’s Environmental Impact Specialist Dr. Susanne Etti): As one of travel’s only female climate scientists, Dr. Etti led Intrepid Travel to declare a climate emergency, including women empowerment as one of the business’s seven-point climate commitments. She acknowledges that women are disproportionately experiencing the impacts of climate change as gender inequalities persist around the world, and that we must tackle the climate crisis by ensuring women are empowered, not marginalized.

  • In January 2020, she led Intrepid Travel to declare a Climate Emergency, underpinned by a seven-point climate commitment that included setting emission reduction targets based on science.
  • One of the imperative steps within the seven-point climate commitment plan is empowering women. Addressing the critical intersection between empowering women and climate change will be an increasing focus in 2021, making gender equality a core pillar in the business’s industry-wide fight for a healthier planet.
  • In April 2020, she published an open-sourced guide to decarbonizing your travel businessshe has since conducted over 50 free consultations, more than 180 businesses have downloaded the guide. She will continue to meet with leaders across all sectors to champion carbon reduction plans that include focusing on women empowerment.

Zina Bencheikh – Intrepid

2. Supporting women in travel through collaborative women-led, women-run tours (Led by Zina Bencheikh, Intrepid Travel’s managing director in EMEA): Hailing from Morocco, Zina Bencheikhspent nearly five years successfully lobbying the local Moroccan government to include women in the government-regulated tour guide licensing program. From there, she was the driver behind Intrepid Travel’s Women’s Expeditions—one of its most-successful range of tours in its history—that launched in 2018. Now as the Managing Director of EMEA, residing in London, her continual focus on empowering and supporting women through local tours has shown the tourism industry that product must be purposeful.

  • Launching on International Women’s Day, Zina is leading Intrepid Travel in collaborating with social enterprise, Women in Travel, on three day tours in London, created to empower immigrant women from difficult backgrounds to embark on a career as a tour guide. The women, who are from Ethiopia, Morocco and Albania, will share stories about the customs and traditions of their home country and their ever-evolving influence on local neighborhoods.
  • Earlier this year, in partnership with tech start-up Local Purse, Zina led Intrepid Travel’s charge on creating interactive shopping tours that take travelers through Marrakech’s medinas, connecting travellers with local artisans, tour guides and businesses to economically support Moroccan locals impacted by COVID’s disruption to tourism. Originally launched as two pilots in December 2020, the tours quickly sold-out and are now part of an on-going range.

Natalie Kidd – Intrepid

3. Championing workforce diversity and training across the globe (Led by Intrepid’s Chief People and Purpose Officer Natalie Kidd): As Intrepid Travel’s People and Purpose Officer, Natalie Kidd has led Intrepid Travel’s gender diversity goals across 20 global offices. In her prior role as Chief Operating Officer, she grew Intrepid Travel’s global network of Destination Management companies (DMCs) to a network of 23 and championed the development of local operations teams and tour leaders. Her work includes helping double the business’s female tour leaders from 154 in 2017 to more than 342 in 2020.

  • She leads Intrepid’s diversity and inclusion efforts that includes mandatory anti-racism training released in 2020, which aims to equip all staff and leaders to better understand the positive contribution of diversity, be increasingly aware and know how to act on institutional racism and build a culture that celebrates diversity.
  • Going forward, she’ll lead the business to work with its 200 largest suppliers to create opportunities and improve workplace practices for women.

These exceptional women are building on Intrepid’s years-long commitments to diversity. Intrepid Travel became a signatory of the UN Global Compact in 2008 and adopted eight of its Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality. The business reports on its gender equality progress annually through its Communication on Progress, which forms part of its Integrated Annual Report. The business’s Board of Directors is 40 percent female, the business has a 50/50 split of men and women in its Global Leadership team.

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