AFTA view: May edition

Gender equality and diversity in the work place is without doubt a number one issue in the Australian commercial landscape this year, discusses AFTA's Jayson Westbury.

Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTA

Gender equality and diversity in the work place is without doubt a number one issue in the Australian commercial landscape this year.

That’s not to suggest that companies within the travel and tourism industry have not been consciously thinking about this and addressing issues that relate to this topic already, there is just clearly more focused attention this year.

For the Australian travel industry gender diversity is more likely a polar opposite to almost all other industries, apart from perhaps health, in that our workforce is 75% female. Even the leadership positions of the travel industry have an equality and diversity that most industries would love to have and are working towards.

When you look to the travel agency community this gender diversity is even more pronounced and I say this for the following reasons. The leadership teams of the largest travel agency companies in Australia at the most senior level are made up of both men and women. Flight Centre, CTM, Helloworld Travel, TTC, Webjet, MTA and Travel Counsellors just to name a few all have a balance at the top of both men and women.

In the agency environment there are hundreds of female agency owners, in fact our records would support more female agency owners than men. I often find myself in conversations within government where this fact comes as a surprise to politicians and bureaucrats and even more broadly across the globe.

So what does that really mean as a contribution to this debate? Nothing more than that the Australian travel industry stands out as very gender diverse and we should be proud of the fact that we are ahead of the game.

When it comes to pay equality then sadly I don’t have the stats to support a strong view either way and perhaps others who have done the research on this are able to contribute, but the Australian agency community may need to think about how we can attract more males into our entry and junior roles so that we don’t see a further gender inequality develop in our workforce.

The male-female debate in Australia is bound to continue for some time to come as many industries are yet to think about how to honestly address this. Education and training, career prospects and pathways, acceptance of diversity are all factors which ensure that an industry and its workforce are well-balanced.

It is an important topic which needs to be discussed both within the industry and across the Australian economy.

The travel industry is always on the lookout for good people to join it, we need a pipeline of people coming into our industry to ensure that our future workforce has the skills it needs and that we are known to be an industry that is open to all, always.

It might be time to just have a think about what you are doing in your workplace about this subject.


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