Travel and tourism by its intrinsic nature is all about connecting people from across the globe and we often say that people and culture is at the heart of a destination. So by its very nature the travel industry should be leading the charge for diversity and inclusion, but as you delve deeper this is not reflected in the travel companies and travel media who promote the world around us.
Following the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA in May 2020 and subsequent BLM movement, recycled conversations around racial inequality, social injustice, structural and institutionalised racism against People of Colour have been sparked. With only one in 33 leaders in the travel, hospitality and leisure industries in the UK identifying as being from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background, as compared to 1 in 8 in the UK population, it’s time to push diversity in the travel industry to the top of the agenda as we rebuild and reimagine a better travel industry.
To have the most successful and well-rounded travel industry, representation of minority groups within the industry must improve. To invoke this change, the majority must help, support and advocate for the minority. If engaged correctly, allies hold the power and the key to stimulate positive change.
So, what is an Ally?
Allies are defined as ‘individuals who strive to end oppression through supporting and advocating on behalf of the oppressed’ (Sabat, Martinez, & Wessel, 2013, p. 480). Allies are typically non-minorities who use their majority status to enact positive change. For instance, a White person might be an ally for people of colour, a heterosexual person might be an ally for people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, or a man might be an ally for women. When we welcome and support one another, we open the door to new ideas that help us build better relationships and experiences for our customers, employees and the communities we serve.
Why does Allyship matter?
Allyship matters because once we acknowledge that we have privileges, we need to ensure that we use these privileges to improve the lives of others. As allies we are called to speak up, to ensure we do not turn a blind eye to injustice, to racism, to gender inequality in the workplace. As we move to close the gap between our espoused culture and our lived experiences, we can all recognize our privilege, become better allies and help create safe space for everyone to be their authentic selves.
Among the first questions we always receive from allies is, ‘what can I do?’ Some simple actions can go a long way in changing someone’s day, week or career.
Through personal actions, a more inclusive environment can be fostered in the travel industry:
- Listen – We strongly believe that without conversation there will be no transformation. Talk to your colleagues to understand the challenges they face and the support they need.
- Learn –Be open to reverse mentoring with a colleague. You’ll learn a lot about them, yourself, and you’ll have those uncomfortable conversations to pick up some critical dos and don’ts.
- Support – Champion someone from an underrepresented community to support career growth and increase company retention. Sponsoring an individual means being actively involved in aiding someone’s career progression.
- Call out inappropriate behaviour – People in privileged positions have the ability to call out unacceptable behaviour towards underrepresented people and be heard. Underrepresented people may not be comfortable raising issues due to a fear of backlash or risk of jeopardizing professional relationships.
- Make everyone accountable – Fostering an environment of inclusion is good for business so everyone should be involved not only under represented people.
Want to learn more about how you can use Allyship as a tool to drive diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Get your copy of the Women in Travel CIC Allyship Toolkit.