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The achievements of women in travel, tourism and hospitality will be celebrated at the 2006 Shine Awards this month.
About 80% of travel agency employees are women, and yet you only have to flick through the pages of Travel Weekly to see that the majority of senior managers, directors and chief executives are men.
Although women make up the backbone of the travel industry’s workforce they are significantly under-represented in its more senior ranks.
It’s no wonder then, that two years ago, two like-minded women decided something should be done to raise awareness of this imbalance and to celebrate the accomplishments of those who had gone against the grain.
The Shine Awards were launched by Alessandra Alonso and Gaby Marcon, joint managing directors of Shine People and Places, a London-based firm that provides bespoke professional development and marketing solutions.
“There are lots of reasons why we decided to launch the awards,” said Alonso. “We wanted to praise and recognise the contribution that women make to the industry, at whatever level. We don’t care if you are senior or junior. We are looking to celebrate the unsung heros.
“Women contribute so much to the industry, bringing a wealth of skills. Research has shown that companies with women on their board are more successful, more profitable and more diverse. Equality is not just morally right, it makes commercial sense.”
According to Alonso, there is a very clear movement in today’s business towards a more feminine management style.
“We are no longer seeing the directive and control-style management of the 1970s and 1980s. We are seeing a lot more emphasis on communication, mediation, negotiation, bringing everybody on board, and more flexibility – all of which are more feminine qualities,” Alonso said.
The awards are also designed to show women in the industry that they can have a career, not just a job.
“The winners are role models and show that if you are a young women in the travel industry, there is no reason why you can’t get a prestigious job,” she said.
But she stressed the awards are not just for women who get to top positions in the industry. A Young Achiever of the Year Award is open to women who are under 30 years of age who have done something incredible, inspirational or are simply the best at what they do.
One of the judges on this year’s awards panel is Karen Gill, previously InterContin-ental Hotels sales and marketing vice-president Europe, Middle East and Africa and now founder and managing director of a company called Everywoman, which helps women start and grow their businesses and also works with the government to raise the profile of the numbers of women in the UK economy.
Alonso commented: “There are more traditional male-dominated industries, such as IT and finance. The travel and tourism industry is a more comfortable and more pleasant environment for women but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue.
“The main thing about the Shine Awards is that they keep the issue at the forefront of everyone’s minds by uncovering all the role models and encouraging younger women to go forward.”