Lack of diversity in travel businesses ‘breeds complacency’, industry warned

Travel companies must develop diverse leadership teams and boards if they are to continue to innovate, as teams that do not have a range of voices “breed complacency”, the founder of business accelerator Wmns Work warned.

Speaking at the fourth annual International Women in Travel and Tourism Forum (IWTTF) held in London on Thursday, Iris Serbanescu (pictured third left) implored travel businesses to take stock of the people on their leadership teams and to examine whether there is enough inherent diversity in senior positions.

“Everyone needs to distinguish between inherent diversity, which are the traits you are born with, and acquired diversity, which are the traits you develop throughout your life,” she said.

“Within the travel industry, we have a lot of acquired diversity in leadership positions, but not a lot of inherent diversity.

“Women make up 60% of the travel industry but hold less than 8% of board positions.

“A lot of decisions are being made from the top by lots of people who all look and think the same way, so the same decisions get made over and over again because sameness breeds complacency.

“By default, if sameness breeds complacency, diversity breeds innovation as when you give diverse folks power or they create their own power by becoming entrepreneurs, we see amazing results.”

“Diverse groups come up with innovations that homogenous groups could never do because they haven’t had any of those experiences.

“Diversity is 100% a necessary key to innovation and especially important for us as the travel industry if we want to continue to provide amazing experiences to the people we serve.”

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