In late 2016, staff at the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) decided to focus on two big initiatives that are important to us and our community, one of which was women’s leadership in tourism. The desire to address this came from our own community and team and was underscored by what we saw happening in the world around us.
Anecdotally, I recently spoke at a travel event where male speakers outnumbered females 30-to-1. This personal experience was very motivating because we never want to let that happen at the ATTA. But, unfortunately, this was not an unusual or isolated event. It’s not new news that women are underrepresented in many sectors of business and politics, and we wanted to do our part in affecting that. More specifically, we wanted to create a place to discuss the subject of women as leaders in travel and highlight success stories as inspiration for the travel community.
An important first step toward understanding gender equality in our own workplace and in the industry was conducting research. We wanted and needed to know where the industry stood in regard to the issue before we could concretely define how we would address it. To that end, we sent out a survey to the industry in order to gather information on the topic.
And, because we’re committed to leading by example at the ATTA, we sent that same survey about gender equality to our own 20 staff members. Based on the results, we identified concrete actions our organization can take to ensure workplace barriers are not based on gender and everyone has the same opportunities to succeed within the ATTA. For us, this included creating an employment manual with clear statements and policies about zero tolerance for and an established protocol in relation to harassment and discrimination, diversity, maternity/paternity leave, and equal pay. Additionally, we aim to achieve gender parity in our advisory groups and boards by 2020.
While we (and the adventure industry at large) scored much higher than many other industries according to the recently released results of the research I mentioned above, there’s always room for improvement.
One of the ways we plan to hold ourselves accountable is by sharing our outward-facing equality-related goals with our community. We’re hopeful that, by doing so, other industry partners will take a deep look at their own policies and initiatives with a critical eye toward gender equality. Here are a few things we’re tackling at the ATTA to drive change — and how those initiatives are playing out so far this year.
Publish one ATTA-released report on Women’s Leadership in Travel.
The report mentioned above is complete and has just been published. We invite you to take the time to read and learn from it. Read a summary of our findings and download the full report now.
Ensure at least one-third of speakers at major events in 2017 will be women, with a goal of 50 percent for 2018 events.
Delegates at ATTA events this year have been treated to a diverse array of speakers and workshop leaders. Women made up one-third of the agenda at AdventureELEVATE and 45 percent of AdventureNEXT Near East speakers were women. At Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) in Salta, Argentina, this October, half of the speakers will be women, and we’re on track to deliver the same at AdventureELEVATE next March as well.
Hold one women-focused, specific event in 2017.
We’re excited to be holding the first Adventure Women Leadership Studio at ATWS this year. The event will offer women a forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face in the industry, learn leadership skills specific to their situations, and allow them to foster relationships with others who can help support their ventures in this male-dominated field. Women attending the Summit are invited to learn more about the event and register for the Studio.
Spotlight women entrepreneurs and leaders at events in 2017.
We have had an incredibly diverse and talented array of women speak at each of our events so far this year. For example, Dené Sinclair, director of marketing for the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada, offered a wealth of information about working with Indigenous communities at AdventureELEVATE, and an inspirational panel of boundary-busting women talked about their successes on a panel at AdventureNEXT Near East. At ATWS, delegates will hear a keynote address from Sally McCoy about courageous leadership.
Along with the Adventure Angels, help provide financial support through the ATWS Scholarship Program to a women-focused business.
For the second year in a row, the Adventure Angels is helping a woman-owned travel business get a head start in the industry with support to attend ATWS, complimentary membership in the ATTA for one year, a mentorship package and more. The application period for the scholarship has ended, and this year’s winner will be announced in July.
Publish four AdventureTravelNews articles about women working in the industry in 2017.
We are very excited you’re reading this article in a Women’s Leadership in Travel special issue of AdventureTravelNews, which features six articles specifically on the topic. We aren’t stopping here, however. There are stories we still want to publish about women leaders in travel this year, including some we’re sure will come out of the Studio this October.
Create a Women’s Leadership in Travel HUB community.
Though not quite completed, this project is underway and we expect to complete it by the end of the year. We’re excited to create an online community where all leaders within our industry can work together to keep adventure travel on the cutting edge of gender equality.
At the ATTA, we want to give everyone a voice, an opportunity to contribute equally, and the chance to rise as high as possible. We hope you join us in this mission. If your company wishes to conduct a self-assessment in the way the ATTA team did, we will be happy to share the survey questions with you.