Committed to gender equality
Tourism offers women considerable employment opportunities to take up paid employment and to manage their own businesses, but it is a fact that despite the significant milestones achieved in recent years, women do not yet have the same employment opportunities as men either for finding a job on grounds of merit or for obtaining merit-based professional recognition. Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which we in the tourism sector can actively contribute to.
Tourism is one of the sectors employing the greatest number of women and therefore the companies in this sector can contribute directly to achieving this equality, either by participating in awareness-raising campaigns aimed both, at our workforces and at other stakeholders (e.g., customers and suppliers) or by reducing all sources of discrimination in our businesses in relation to accessing specific jobs and fair pay. Working in this sector enables many women to earn the necessary income to become more independent, thereby increasing their chance to manage to control their resources while strengthening their capabilities.
Although the variety of jobs held by women has increased offering a broad range of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, unfortunately at the current time a large number of the women who work in the tourism sector do so in employment categories that are low paid and require fewer qualifications. There are still very few that hold leadership positions. According to the data contained in the study entitled “Women in Senior Management in Spain” presented in 2015 by the Instituto de Empresa (IE) Corporate Governance Center, just 13.4% of the executives of Spanish companies are women and 31% of companies have no women in senior management.
From the perspective of sustainable development it is essential that companies have policies and procedures that ensure gender equality. Tourism can and should be an important driver of that equality. Furthermore, given its influence globally and its significant presence in developed and developing countries, it can become one of the main proponents of this movement and collaborate actively to achieve this goal.
If we take into account that there is already a high percentage of women working in the tourism sector (44.3% in Spain according to the data from the 2015 labour force sample survey – EPA, Encuesta de Población Activa), our challenge, more than being to increase the presence of women in our companies, should be to achieve greater quality and career progression in these jobs.
It is vital to prepare the necessary resources to foster equal opportunities so that women can gain access, under the same conditions as men, to positions of responsibility, where aspects such as motherhood, which unfortunately have been used to discriminate against women in the world of work, do not represent an obstacle to getting a job, keeping it or bettering it.
Another aspect to bear in mind is the wage gap between men and women. According to the latest studies conducted by several entities, the wage gap situation between men and women in Spain, instead of improving, is moving away from the European average and is reaching levels similar to those in 2002. As a positive aspect, it must be pointed out that the salary of women in the tourism sector, according to the UNWTO report published in 2012 on women in tourism, seems to be more aligned with that of men than in other sectors.
In developed countries, there are more and more laws designed to guarantee equality of opportunities and women’s rights, but the truly important thing would be to learn to value each person individually, and to appreciate and, of course, allow their differences, regardless of gender or any other circumstance. If we truly want an equal society, we must begin by educating about the values of equality. As important as, or more so than, legislative measures is the activity of promoting change in the cultural patterns of society. In this respect, all measures aimed at reconciling working life and family life for employees are welcome.
At Ilunion Hotels, we are very sensitive to any type of discrimination. We work not only with the goal of generating financial returns but also with the aim of contributing to making the world a fairer place. In addition to committing to integrating people with disabilities into our society, in 2008 we wanted to commit ourselves to “equality of rights and opportunities for women”. To this end, we designed and implemented an Equality Plan that we intend to review and improve over the course of this year.
It is important to point out that our equality plan includes the entire workforce. It is a series of measures and actions that were not designed exclusively for women, as the aim is to integrate the principle of equality as regards all areas, not just that of gender.
Although we still have a long way to go, all the progress made in this direction will help us to achieve a more decent, fairer society.