Charuta Fadnis, SVP, research and product strategy at Phocuswright,
mentions the “broken rung” in the corporate ladder: For every 100 men
who are promoted to manager level roles, only 86 women are promoted.
It is a phenomenon Susie Vowinkel, managing director, global
travel/site director at Google, has observed in the travel industry: “We’re not seeing enough women
advance into senior roles,” she says, adding that the pandemic didn’t help because
many women had to handle caretaker roles.
The conversation took place Monday during the Diversity in
Leadership session at The Phocuswright Conference in Phoenix.
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Diversity and inclusion isn’t in Vowinkel’s job title, but
she says it’s something she thinks about a lot.
Google’s culture clubs and employee resource groups (ERGs),
including for Black and Asian people, initially started as groups where people could
find others like themselves and advocates; but the ERGs’ reach and influence has
spread throughout the company, Vowinkel says.
Abu Bundu Kamara, senior director of inclusion
and diversity at Expedia Group, says he is optimistic about diversity in the
travel tech industry, but adds that “I think there’s more for us to do.”
A system redesign may be needed – for example, redesigning
the accommodation process to meet the individualized needs of people with varying
disabilities, according to Kamara.
Ronisha Goodwin, director, global diversity, equity and inclusion
at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, says:
“I think we have deployed an extreme amount of tactics and
programs and there’s a lot of effort, but we haven’t seen the results yet.”
Hyatt introduced the concept of equity after the murder of George
Floyd in 2020.
“Equity has been a difficult concept for us a Hyatt family
to embrace,” Goodwin says. “Part of that is because 60% of leadership team
identify as white males. When we start talking about privilege …. many of our
leaders didn’t grow up wealthy, and so as a result they have a hard time reconciling
Hyatt makes sure there are at least two diverse candidates in
every slate of job candidates for key leadership roles; having two diverse
candidates increases the odds that one of them will ultimately be hired,
according to Goodwin.
An effective DEI program needs to address: “How do we make
sure there’s a feeling of inclusion for all?” she says. “Regardless of how they
identify, there’s a place for you.”
David Kong, principal at DEI Advisors, says 50% of direct
reports to the CEO at Hilton are women, and Hilton has set a goal for 50% general
managers to be women.
According to Kong, ERGs are an effective way to advance DEI within an organization. ERGs are self-directed groups for people such as women or LGBTQ+
people that provide a sense of belonging and give people a voice by enabling
them to provide input to the organization.
“Inclusion means you value and respect [people’s] opinions,
their diverse backgrounds, their diverse knowledge.”
At small- to medium-size companies, it’s critical for the
CEO or board of directors believe diversity is “the most important thing,” and “unconscious
bias is a tough barrier to overcome.”
“It’s impossible to do anything major without executive
leadership buying in,” Kong says.
Destinations International has unveiled an equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) pilot program in partnership with Tripadvisor and the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau in Virginia.