Female leadership programme launched for travel firms

Social enterprise Women in Travel CIC is bringing out a bespoke female leadership programme for businesses and individuals in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors.

‘LeadHer’ aims to inspire and educate the advancement of women into leadership positions, and is available to travel firms to use as part of their staff training and development.

The programme aims to address the continued gender pay gap and disparity in senior roles in the industry. There are three main components to the training; individual leadership skills; leadership within teams and organisations; and leadership and influence across the wider industry.

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Women in Travel managing director and founder Alessandra Alonso and Lucy Ferguson, gender consultant to the UN and founder of Fabulous Feminists, came up with the idea for LeadHer and are leading the programme, which can be tailored to specific business needs.

It was recently piloted by Intrepid Travel at an event in Valencia, with interactive training sessions, group mentoring and development of individual objectives and a company manifesto to drive progress in female leadership. There were also collective mindfulness and idea-sharing sessions with group dinners and outdoor yoga.

One participant in the training has already successfully applied for a role as Intrepid general manager, Eastern Europe, after going on the training and described the sessions as “inspirational”.

Intrepid’s EMEA managing director Zina Bencheikh said: “Intrepid has long been a champion of gender empowerment, supporting women in the destinations we visit, and within our teams worldwide.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve on practical application, so we worked with Women in Travel to help us put together a clear vision and specific training for the women in our business looking to take the next career step. It had fantastic feedback from all the women who took part.”

Alonso said she was excited to bring the programme to the market, describing the issue of gender equjity in business as “far from over”.

She said: “The number of women in senior leadership roles actually dropped by 10% in 2023 to 32.2.%, and in our industry specifically, women typically earn 15% less than their male counterparts.

“Yet we know women often have the emotional intelligence, self-awareness and communication skills to make excellent leaders.

“We hope travel businesses will see the opportunity in unlocking the potential of their women, and stand ready to facilitate with a tailored, engaging and informative programme.”

Florencia Allo Moreno, Intrepid’s general manager for Western Europe, said the scheme had brought women in the company closer together.

“As a first-time mum recently returned to work, I found comfort on the Female Leadership Programme, especially sharing the programme with my peers, who are also in leadership roles and are also mums.

“Listening to their amazing stories, challenges and learnings helped me realise I have an incredible support network within Intrepid, and I absolutely felt the programme brought us all together as colleagues but most importantly, as friends. Knowing I have amazing women in this team that I can count on meant the world to me.”

More information on LeadHer will be available at The International Women in Travel & Tourism Forum on June 27 at the Google’s King’s Cross offices in London.

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