#IWD18 taught us that girls can be a girl’s best friend!

#IWD18 taught us that girls can be a girl’s best friend!

Thursday 8th March was International Women’s Day 2018 and its theme was #pressforprogress.

Women in Travel run a day of celebration in connection with a leading hospitality trade show here in the UK. Hospitality is an important ‘ring’ in the Travel & Tourism chain and many of the attendees came from the broader community: hotels, restaurants, travel, technology and many other suppliers were represented at the event and joined in talks, debates and mentoring.

I realised with some excitement that mine – however amazing – was actually just one of the many events promoted around the UK within Travel & Tourism to celebrate International Women’s Day. Looking at social media platforms like LinkedIn, it was apparent that more than ever before there was a huge global engagement from all sectors: women and like-minded men, committed to supporting gender equality and empowering their female colleagues, sisters, friends and mothers to be their best and achieve their best. All, men and women, committed to #pressforprogress, the theme of this year’s campaign.

This was truly a wonderful realisation and a great feeling. Possibly because of the #metoo campaign, the many abuses of power and the huge gender pay gap discussions that have filled newspapers over the last 6-12 months, sisters are starting to truly come together and doing it for themselves!

While we may think this is obvious, we still hear far too many stories of women making it difficult for other women to enter a sector or climb the ladder. Often women in senior roles are identified as being the obstacles to other women’s careers. Last week, a debate on this appeared on LinkedIn, and received many comments and likes. Unfortunately, in my view, women in senior roles often still perceive that unless they are seen to adapt to the style of their male role models, they will not actually make it in business or they will be judged as weak and overlooked. I believe this attitude will only change if there are enough women at the top to impact the culture and perhaps change it to value a more feminine style of leadership.

So here is to #IWD18 for putting the spotlight on women coming together and supporting each other! The challenge is now to continue the process and move progress from this one day the day-to-day.

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Alessandra is founder of social enterprise Women in Travel CIC which she launched in January 2017 to provide communities in key regions (for example UK, Middle East, Africa and Latin America) with a sustainable livelihood by enabling women to become economically independent through entrepreneurship and a thriving career in the travel and tourism industry. Alessandra is also Chief Mentor & Consultant at Everyday Mentor, where she provides mentoring, coaching and consulting services to a range of clients in the commercial and public sector. Alessandra also collaborates with a number of Universities, including Hertfordshire, Normandy and Surrey. Alessandra is passionate about gender in tourism and has written and spoken extensively on the subject over the last 12 years, including at the United Nations World Tourism Day. She is well known as co-founder of Shine People and Places – a boutique outfit dedicate to supporting women in the workplace - and The Shine Awards for Women Achievements in Travel Tourism Hospitality and Events, which she ran between 2004 and 2010 before Sector Skills Council People 1st took them over. Prior to Shine Alessandra worked at KPMG, where she built the Travel & Tourism division, and the World Travel and Tourism Council. Alessandra has an executive MBA from the University of Ediburgh/Grande Ecole Pons combined; she is a qualified coach/mentor for performance in the workplace and she is a member of several industry bodies including AWTE and the UK Tourism Society.

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