Travel and tourism is one of the world’s most gender diverse industries, with a 50-50 overall split between men and women, but female representation at senior management level and above is abysmally low.

A new report by hospitality consultancy Aptamind and World Tourism Forum Lucerne reveals that female representation falls to 40% at mid-level management and 33% in senior management. In the C-Suite, 19% of roles are filled by women, with only five firms led by a female CEO. This is echoed at board level, where 24% of board members are women, 8% of boards include no women at all and there are only six female chairs.

The report analyses data from 100 publicly listed companies in the travel and tourism industry across seven ‘buckets’ – Hotels, Casinos and Entertainment, Airlines and Airports, OTAs and Travel Companies, Cruises and Restaurant Chains/Food & Beverage Companies. Together, they employ 6.2 million people across 120 countries, with a total market cap of more than $1.6 trillion.

While 24% of C-Suite execs at Food and Beverage companies are women – the highest proportion in the industry – the Cruise sector lags behind with a disappointing 10%. Hotels have the highest proportion of female board members at 29%, and Casinos & Entertainment firms bring up the rear with 19% female representation.

“While many organizations are working on promising solutions and have taken significant steps to address gender diversity, it has not resulted in accelerating gender diversity into a collective, cohesive movement that motivates action at scale,” said Aradhana Khowala, CEO and founder of Aptamind Partners and Board Member at World Tourism Forum Lucerne.

As well as analysing each part of the travel and tourism industry in detail, the report examines the seemingly impenetrable glass ceiling between senior management and the C-Suite, shines a light on nations setting positive examples and explains how governments and private sector companies can improve gender equality.

“As many businesses in our sector will be forced to restructure and as companies rebuild teams and organisational structures, this could be a great time for different, more diverse, leaders to emerge,” Khowala said. “If the past 12 months have taught us anything, it is a reminder that the human spirit is capable of tremendous achievement when faced with a crisis. The diversity and inclusion crisis needs the same can’t-fail mentality to solve. Despite the mounting challenges I am more convinced than ever that the travel and tourism industry is up to the task.”

To read the full report, including in-depth analyses of all seven sectors within travel and tourism, click here

About Aptamind Partners

Aptamind Partners is a private client advisory firm that helps ambitious leaders in governments, emerging destinations, public and private sector firms and increasingly social-sector organisations understand the impact of tourism as a change agent. Its unique proprietary approach produces privileged insights and finely calibrated strategies by combining hard data, social sentiment analysis, and on-the ground investigative research backed by a network of best-in-class experts to unlock new sources of growth especially in challenging times.

Aptamind's team has decades of experience dedicated to travel, tourism and hospitality and work in over 75+ countries, and has advised the governments, industry policy makers, family offices, UHNW investors, global and local corporations and international strategy consultants. As a firm we are very focussed on sustainability and the social impact of tourism and always looking to work with partners who resonate our passion for these topics.