Travel companies must start on a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) path, rather than wait for data to be gathered that illustrates change is needed.
Collecting data is not a bad thing but often companies are scared what it reveals about their organizations and it ends up in the “top drawer.”
This is the view of Carol Fergus, director of global travel at Fidelity International.
Speaking during the Global Business Travel Association conference in Berlin last week, Fergus, who is also vice chair of the GBTA's DEI committee, shares that a lot of travel companies are asking for such datapoints.
“It’s to get a real understanding of what people think, what’s happening out there but when they gather that data it goes in the top drawer. The reason is because they’re too scared to say ‘we’re not doing good.’ I say don’t stick it in the drawer, have those conversations. Tell your people this is how you look today and this is the journey we’re going to take.”
And, if you don’t share the data, she adds, don’t be surprised if your DEI program doesn’t work.
“Show them warts and all because it’s those people that you need to help you. If you speak to them and tell them what’s happening and ask them to join you on that journey then things will change.”
Fergus goes on to talk about why DEI matters saying that it’s about about people and “we matter, the travel industry would be nothing without us."
“I don’t need to tell you that DEI attracts the best talent. I don’t need to tell you that happy people means a brilliant organisation.”
She also points to statistics revealing that 47% of Millennials are looking for diversity in the workplace when seeking jobs and that by 2025 Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce and will be key decision makers.
Furthermore, she says, 50% of travelers who value DEI say would be happy to pay a premium of up to 20% if an organization had a DEI philosophy.
Fergus adds that action is being taken and things are changing but that a lot of the people that should be involved in the conversation are not being reached and feel it is still a “tick box.”
She also stresses the importance of DEI is a mindset rather than a process and in everything a company does and across every department from the top down.
“It doesn’t have an end, it’s not an undertaking with a destination, it’s a way of working, a way of thinking.”
Fergus advises people to take a ‘head, heart, hands’ approach asking what DEI means to them and how important it is, why it should be a passion and how they are going to make it happen.