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Sydney and Auckland coupled for A Force for Good

In honour of International Women’s Day, female travel leaders and male allies from Australia and New Zealand descended upon Sydney and Auckland for networking event A Force for Good, where they discussed a wide range of topics, from responsible tourism and supporting women in leadership.

IN A fascinating panel discussion, Lisa Pile from Regent Seven Sea Cruises; Kaylene Shuttlewood from Amadeus; Karen McGilvray from Corporate Travel Management and Alice Ager from Uniworld shared their leadership insights.

During the conversation, Ager explained the strategies that have led to Uniworld’s diverse workforce, such as parental leave for both primary and secondary carers as well as leave for domestic violence, miscarriage, fertility and IVF.

In addition, Uniworld runs a global women’s network for its employees, which includes mentorships as well as projects, such as its work around supporting girls in Bangalore to enter the tech industry.

“It’s about having more women coming into the organisation, going through their career and giving them the development and training so that they’re at least at the table with an opportunity,” said Ager.

McGilvray also noted that as a single woman, in some instances, it’s expected that women without children or a partner are expected to take on the bulk of the work, both in and outside of the office.

“I think sometimes you are expected to do more because you don’t have children or a partner and you’re also the person sometimes that organises everybody else. So you end up trying to balance your work and personal life and all your friends too,” she observed.

“So for me, it’s about having the right team around you and having that support, so you don’t feel like you’re letting anyone down by asking for help.”

Hurtigruten CEO Hedda Felin travelled to Australia from Norway to speak at the A Force for the Good, and talked about her grandmothers, two of the greatest role models in her life. One of the women transported bombs during World War II and the other was part of the resistance and an academic leader.

“These women were really ahead of their time. They were challenging norms, carving their path with integrity and strength. And they taught me the importance of long-term thinking. That’s really embedded into these values,” Felin revealed.

“I’m certain that they are the reason why I never doubted myself taking more and more responsibility very early on in my career, taking risks, and taking more challenging leadership roles.”

Meanwhile, headline speaker Dr Jill Robinson  from Animals Asia revealed the horrific plight of animals used for entertainment in Southeast Asia and G Adventures Founder Bruce Poon Tip spoke of how community tourism can combat overtourism – and shape a better future for the industry.

G Adventures has developed a multitude of projects over the years to support local communities, from Women on Wheels in India to Masai Clean Cookstoves and SASANE Sisterhood of Survivors in Nepal.

“As an industry, we are missing an opportunity to be a transformational industry. We’re in an industry where we’re taking people to some of the poorest countries in the world,” he said.

“But by just changing our business model slightly, we can make sure local people benefit. We can transform lives and make travel a two-way conversation.”

Founder Helene Taylor first launched A Force for Good in 2017 to support women in the tourism, travel and hospitality sectors and offer them the opportunity to network and share their experiences and ideas with one another.

“When we embarked on this initiative in 2017, the industry landscape revealed a stark reality: only 10% of senior leadership positions were held by women, despite comprising 70% of the workforce,” Taylor told Travel Daily, adding that in the last few years, more companies have begun demonstrating a commitmentto fostering change in the industry.

“However, while we celebrate these strides, there remains unfinished business. Achieving true equality demands concerted efforts at every level, from directorship to the boardroom. We must continue to pave the way for future generations of leaders and steadfastly pursue pay parity to ensure fairness and opportunity for all.”

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