A pledge to work towards women’s equality and boost female representation in leadership roles has been made by travel industry leaders.

They committed to providing equal opportunities for women by removing barriers, ensuring fair treatment, and encouraging greater financial, professional and social independence was signed by more than 100 companies including Carnival Corporation and Hilton.

The public-private-academic partnership aims to promote diversity and drive inclusivity to help lead the way to achieving equality for women throughout the sector.

The commitment came in a ‘women initiative’ unveiled at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual summit in Cancun.

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The private sector pledged to increase female representation of leadership positions by 30%-50% by 2030.

There will also be a commitment to “identify opportunities” to reduce gender pay gaps.

Two core elements cover developing skills and creating formal sponsorship and mentorship programmes for young women in business.

Women will be encouraged to bring in new ideas and skills to broaden the wealth of experience and expertise from women at all levels across the sector.

Senior women executives will also be empowered to become mentors and share their skills and experience with the next generation of female leaders to nurture and develop new talent.

Companies will also be asked to assign a senior executive or board member to be a sponsor for gender diversity and inclusion, who is accountable for progress.

WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “Globally, women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic which has exacerbated the pay gap, the opportunity gap and the shocking lack of senior positions and leadership roles across the travel and tourism sector.

“This needs to be changed, WTTC research shows women play a vital role and represented 54% of travel and tourism’s employment worldwide. Yet while more than half the sector is accounted for by women, all too few occupy any senior or strategic roles.”

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who helped launch the initiative, said: “Women have always had to outperform men, and whilst things are changing for the better, it is still a fight and a constant battle. 

“Change happens much quicker when it comes from the top. Companies would be more profitable if more women were in positions of power and boardrooms were less homogenous and reflected the diversity of their customers.

“This is why I am delighted to be here with WTTC on the day it launches its Women Initiative. As an advocate for women’s rights, I know every act we take will help change the lives of women everywhere and make the world a fairer and better place.”

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