The new “The Numbers Behind Women in Leadership: Leisure” report, conducted by private advisory firm Aptamind Partners and supported by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), has found that only 7% of C-suite positions in the leisure industry are held by women. Despite the fact that women represent 50% of the industry’s overall workforce, the percentage of female-held mid-management positions drops to 42%, and then to 33% at the senior management level.
The report — which looked at public data from the world’s largest hotel groups, casinos and entertainment companies — also found that there are currently zero women in top CEO and chair spots at major global hotel groups.
Our Analysis: The Leisure Industry Needs to Actively Address Its Gender Gap
The fact that women make up half of the leisure industry’s workforce (and two-thirds of all travel advisors, according to the American Society of Travel Advisors), and yet are severely underrepresented at higher corporate levels, indicates an industry-wide career opportunity problem. The study did show that progress is possible, with the percentage of women on the boards of leisure companies growing from 17% in 2007 to 28% in 2022, and the number of female CEOs at casino and entertainment companies growing from 3% in 2019 to 9% in 2021.
However, the industry needs to take active steps to address its underlying gender imbalance and get more women into leadership positions. The report offers six steps to doing so, including providing better disclosure and regular reporting; independent regulation and verification; and incentivizing and holding leadership accountable for making progress in this area.
We need to go beyond well-meaning initiatives and box-ticking exercises and start taking concrete steps to redress the current imbalance.
What They Are Saying: Insightful Data and Collective Action Are Needed
“We need a wholesale shift in the way we think and talk about gender and leadership,” said Aradhana Khowala, CEO of Aptamind Partners and author of the report. “And we need to go beyond well-meaning initiatives and box-ticking exercises and start taking concrete steps to redress the current imbalance. One of the major barriers to improving gender diversity is the lack of insightful and robust data in the public domain. We cannot wait any longer for the arc of history to bend the right way on its own. We need to benchmark where we are at so we can push forward together with concerted, collective action.”
“This issue goes beyond equity and fairness,” added Julia Simpson, president and CEO of WTTC. Companies need to hold themselves accountable to guarantee progress is made over time. Putting women on center stage of travel and tourism will ensure a better future for the sector.”