Thriving gender diversity & inclusion at events

This article was first published on LinkedIn by Rita Varga. Check out the original post.


Part 1. The WHY


Over the past months we were exposed to more events than ever before, in- and outside the hospitality industry due to all things moving online.


As the founder of WHTT ( Women in Hospitality and Travel-Tech) I was consciously checking panels how they reflect on different aspects of diversity in particular gender diversity and inclusion. Most of the time it was very disappointing to see the results and the approach even excluding female panelists even with the name of the event.


It got me thinking; what about those who are not observing? What about those who are attending these events to genuinely learn, stay up to date, get advice? What about the general public? And most importantly what if our customers aka travellers would like to gather information through these events?


Find out in this two parts article why it is important to have inclusive events and essential tips on finding speakers speakers for your events.

Bizzabo’s report found that almost 70% of the speakers at events male, which shows that this issue is not particularly industry specific.

The lack of diversity of speakers at events is clearly not an industry specific challenge.


Let’s start with the WHY , let's go back to the start


United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls


Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.


In their COVID-19 Response back in April 2020 stated


“Limited gains in gender equality and women’s rights made over the decades are in danger of being rolled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the UN Secretary-General said in April 2020, urging governments to put women and girls at the centre of their recovery efforts.


Women are not only the hardest hit by this pandemic, they are also the backbone of recovery in communities. Putting women and girls at the centre of economies will fundamentally drive better and more sustainable development outcomes for all, support a more rapid recovery, and place the world back on a footing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.


Every COVID-19 response plans, and every recovery package and budgeting of resources, needs to address the gender impacts of this pandemic. This means: (1) including women and women’s organizations in COVID-19 response planning and decision-making; (2) transforming the inequities of unpaid care work into a new, inclusive care economy that works for everyone; and (3) designing socio-economic plans with an intentional focus on the lives and futures of women and girls.




BBC understood, took action and created 50:50 THE EQUALITY PROJECT


The 50:50 Project inspires and supports content makers to represent women and men equally. It is the BBC’s biggest ever collective action to increase women’s representation in its content.


The project is based on three principles:


  1. Teams monitor the numbers of men and women in their content to set benchmarks and track their progress.

  2. Only counting the contributors that they control excluding eg the Prime Minister’s speech or eyewitness accounts

  3. Identifying topic areas where women are under-represented. It has also given content-makers further encouragement to continually seek new voices and different perspectives to better reflect the audiences they serve and strengthen the BBC’s output.


The results of the project showcased in the The 50:50 Project Impact Report 2020 some 39% of 2,000 people surveyed said they had noticed a shift in gender balance over the last two years towards more women in BBC online content. One percent of respondents thought the number of men had increased. Among 16 to 34 year-olds, 40% say they derived greater enjoyment from BBC content as a result of seeing and hearing from more women. This figure rises for younger female audiences, with 66% of women aged 16 to 24 saying they enjoy BBC online content more. Meanwhile, 32% of women aged 25 to 34 say they now consume more BBC online content because of greater female representation.


How does that play in in hospitality? Snowball effect


Why does gender equality matter in hospitality?


According to a research conducted by Condor Ferries show following key figures

  • Travel companies dedicated to women-only customers have hugely increased by 230% over the past few years

  • 32 million single American women went traveling at least once over the past year and 1 in 3 travelled 5 times and more

  • It has been found that 80% of the travel decisions are made by women

  • the sears volume for the term “ female solo traveler” across all search engines has increased by 62% over the past three years

  • 59% if woman solo travellers would travel alone again in the next 12 months

  • Regardless of what is going on in the world, it has been found that 86% of women state that they are not afraid of travel

  • 65% of women in the US have vacationed without their partner

  • 27% of travel agents believe that sightseeing and shopping are the most particular activities when women are booking travel

  • It has been found that 75% of those who take adventure, cultural or nature trips are women


On the other hand the white paper by the Hospitality Industry Pipeline (HIP) Coalition finds that within the industry, women make up nearly 70% of the workforce. Whilst in an average only 26% of them are in decision making positions, women are the users and influencers of the business, that means they are the real audience of those events dedicated to hospitality.










pWc Women in Hospitality Travel and Leisure Report 2019



Here are the key benefits of including female identifying speakers - THE WHY

  • diversity makes us smarter

  • 70% of your workforce reflected

  • opportunity for gaining a larger audience, by making content identifiable

  • 80% of travel decision makers will get reflected 8your customers, guests)

  • you are making a statement about your business and culture and not a political statement

We need to fundamentally understand and accept how different perspectives and life experiences among speakers will bring a richer conversation to any conference, and as a result, encourage greater attendee participation from diverse and underestimated communities.


How can you thrive change as an individual?


Promoting Diversity, gender diverse panels at industry events is something WHTT truly cares about, here is our advice

  • WHTT would like to encourage all to advocate for gender diverse panels within their own organization, stepping forward and supporting women if their organization is looking for a speaker.

  • If you are a woman and you don’t feel confident or need support on acquiring speaking skills, reach out to us, there are so many in the WHTT community, who are happy to help.

  • Please try to hold back your thumbs up giving unnecessary exposure to all male panels (all other aspects of diversity taken into consideration)

  • LinkedIn live sessions on WHTT page serve as educational content but also serve for awereness, if you happen to watch a session please give us a thumbs up.

  • Are you an event organizer? Let WHTT help you to find the right female speaker for your event via our free service FIND YOUR SPEAKER

  • Ready to speak out and use your voice? You know someone who would make a great speaker but never gets the chance to shine? SIGN UP AS A SPEAKER

Personally I found that sometimes the least unexpected speakers make the most impactful statements.


At WHTT we produced over 50 live online events in the last three months and we adjusted our panels many times and keep on adjusting them. We found that by including people of different genders, races, economical background, seniority levels creates a rich content and makes it the more consumable, identifiable for the audience.


If the BBC and we can do it you can do it too.


Stay tuned for Part 2 to find effective tips on creative true diverse and inclusive panels in every aspect.

Published by: Rita Jusztina Varga


Over the past months we were exposed to more events than ever before, in- and outside the hospitality industry due to all things moving online.


As the founder of WHTT ( Women in Hospitality and Travel-Tech) I was consciously checking panels how they reflect on different aspects of diversity in particular gender diversity and inclusion. Most of the time it was very disappointing to see the results and the approach even excluding female panelists even with the name of the event.


It got me thinking; what about those who are not observing? What about those who are attending these events to genuinely learn, stay up to date, get advice? What about the general public? And most importantly what if our customers aka travellers would like to gather information through these events?


Find out in this two parts article why it is important to have inclusive events and essential tips on finding speakers speakers for your events.

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