Former Celebrity Cruises boss urges Aito members to create diverse workforces

Former Celebrity Cruises boss Jo Rzymowska has urged Aito firms to focus on creating more diverse workforces as she revealed her own fears about coming out to the industry.

Rzymowska, who has been appointed Hays Travel non-executive director and has set up coaching and mentoring firm Jovolution since leaving Celebrity in June, said it was fundamental businesses think more broadly about talent acquisition.

She said: “I am passionate about working in the travel industry and making us more focused on looking for talent and having more diverse workforces.

“The travel industry needs to focus on this. We are in a world where you need to focus on people that have different traits and thought processes, people who are going to challenge you, because that is the what the next generation is about.

“Someone once told me, never hire the best person for the job, hire the best person for the team. The best team is the most diverse team.”

More: Aito agent appeals to operator members to ‘talk to us’

In a frank and honest reflection of her own career, Rzymowska said she had never thought she would be able to “be her true self” in the travel industry in the 1990s.

Rzymowska, who was adopted by her German mother and Polish father, worked as a rep for Intasun and went to work for Hertz, Thomas Cook and Disney as well as taking roles with short-lived start-ups and Silverjet.

It wasn’t until she joined Royal Caribbean Group aged 40, that she came out as gay to the industry, becoming a champion of equality, diversity and inclusion.

“It was a big decision. I was myself from day one,” she said, adding: “I’ve never felt my gender or sexual orientation has hindered me, however I never thought I would be able to be who I am. I always thought I would have to hide who I was in the 1990s. I felt it would be a risk to my career.”

She stressed the importance of having a working environment where people felt comfortable to be themselves.

“When people do not feel they can be their true self they don’t bring their true best,” she said, adding that for her personally it had an impact on colleagues working with her.

“I was not being fair to my team. In some ways if you hide, it’s somehow insulting to other people,” she said.

Rzymowska said she was now focused on helping other businesses.

“The r [retirement] word doesn’t exist to me. It’s about evolving because if you don’t you become extinct.”

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