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Why travel should invest in diversity—now

Why travel should invest in diversity—now

Travel industries are still overwhelming driven by white cisgender males. But why? Women and people of color have made small advances, but a 2019 McKinsey and LeanIn study notes that there are still only 3 women for every 10 men at the C-Suite/SVP level in travel. One issue is funding, which women and entrepreneurs of color don’t often have a direct line of access to. Another is companies leaning on nebulous ideals like being “authentic” over creating diverse teams, inclusive employee programs, and intersectional hiring practices. Superficial D&I processes also need to curbed, like one-off unconscious bias training sessions that don’t stick and placing Diversity heads in a subservient role to the larger HR machine.

Ultimately, your business should prioritize diversity because diversity matters—and your travel company should reflect the face of the world you work to bring your audience to. But studies have shown that increasing diversity within a business can also lead to an increase in its profitability (in particular, a diversified C-suite yielded more profitability, higher margins, and a greater return to shareholders). Diversity and Inclusion teams should be able to operate independently and holistically, not just at the beck and call of HR and legal. The greatest ROI, however, is building a sense of trust within your consumerbase of travelers who increasingly care more about the ways in which they can see a company is value-driven vs. the way a company says it is.

Community travel experiences used to skew more toward senior citizen motor-coach trips and Birthright pilgrimages to Israel. In 2020, expect more businesses to cater to marginalized communities: think high-touch trip curation for women, queer, and black travelers. Evita Robinson launched Nomadness Travel Tribe—a black travel collective that is rapidly growing (20,000 members and counting) and hosting networking opportunities for its members—from her desire to connect with more black adventurers. Queer travel experiences (like those curated by Pink Iceland) and travel experiences by and for women (like Wild Terrains, which curates trips around women-run businesses in a city) are also on the rise.