Mentoring scheme aims to increase women in the boardroom

A mentoring scheme has been launched to help women progress their careers and ultimately increase the number of females in travel industry boardrooms.

The scheme, jointly launched by training organisation Women 1st and the Association of Women Travel Executives, is urging experienced senior women in the industry to sign up as mentors, as well as encouraging companies across travel, tourism and hospitality to fund mentees to take part.

Women 1st, part of People 1st, has run a mentoring scheme for two and a half years. It has mentored 150 junior and middle management employees, mostly in the hospitality sector.

As a result of its formal partnership with AWTE, announced last night, it hopes to extend the scheme across the mainstream travel industry by matching up mentors and mentees across the tourism sector.

Amanda Taylor, who is due to take over as AWTE chair from Karen Ramirez in April, said: “This will offer junior and middle management staff a chance to benefit from the expertise within the AWTE. It will provide a pipeline of talented women for senior positions and support women to achieve board level positions.”

Women 1st strategic manager of diversity Dan Power said the scheme differed from traditional mentoring schemes with the onus on the mentee rather than the mentor. “This is totally driven by the mentee. They set the agenda,” he said.

He added that the industry as a whole, including tourism and hopsitality, continued to “haemorrhage” female talent at a rate of 300,000 women a year – costing the sector around £2 billion annually in recruitment and training. “I am keen to encourage women from the travel industry to mentor women from hospitality.

“There is a chance to create a long-lasting network of women supporting each other and an opportunity to stem the flow of people out of the sector. Longer term we can start to seriously impact on the number of women in the boardroom.”

Sarah Prentice, business development manager for contract catering firm Barlett Mitchell, who has been a mentee of management consultant Alessandra Alonso since last year, credited the scheme for a job promotion and bringing in £1 million worth of new business.

“It’s great to speak to someone outside your company and it gives you confidence to do what you want to do. I didn’t know how to get to the next level in my company,” she said.

AWTE is holding a mentoring session on May 17 to train mentors on what to expect from the role. There is no cost for mentors to sign up but for mentees, employers must pay £300 per member of staff.

Anyone interested in signing up to the scheme should email


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