One of the major developments in the Indian service sector has been the ever-growing contribution of women in the workforce across various industries. In the last decade, women have reaffirmed their role in the country’s economy, emerging as powerful leaders and managers, either in established organisations or through ventures of their own. However, as you look at the organisational and hierarchical structure of most companies, you would notice that the higher up you go, the fewer women you will find.
The fact that men largely dominate the travel industry is known to all. Be it in the senior managerial or technical roles, the lack of women in the industry is something that’s hard to miss. It is an issue that must be addressed, considering that research shows women make 70 per cent of all travel-related decisions but almost 75 per cent of all travel agents are men. The disparity between the women selling travel services and the number of women consuming them, and the number of women holding key decision-making positions is disconcerting. It is a major setback in the efforts to make women economically empowered and puts a question mark on the travel industry’s competence as women attempt to gain equal economic power. The key takeaway is that while women are adequately placed in the ground floors, the travel industry needs to enhance its focus on getting women up the ladder.
That said the number of women entrepreneurs in the travel industry is rising gradually. In India especially, the current start-up economy has aided partnerships with women-owned travel companies and agencies, providing a major opportunity to such entrepreneurs to expand their share in the market and create an environment of inclusiveness in the entrepreneurial sector. It is an indisputable fact that increased economic opportunities in executive positions for women is a step towards achieving gender equality. Travel companies in the country as well as the industry as a whole must consciously make efforts to bridge the gender gap.
Besides being a socially responsible decision, it is also a smart business decision for companies to place more women in leadership positions. Research also indicates that companies having more women in top managerial positions perform better as compared to those with fewer female leaders.
Although, the pursuit of workforce equality in the travel industry requires much greater effort, the current landscape of women entrepreneurs and leaders in the country is changing for the better and presents an optimistic picture of the future.
The writer is Associate Director, Traveltriangle