It's time the business world stepped up to gender equality

Guest post by Trafalgar CEO, Gavin Tollman

As the world comes together for International Women’s Day on March 8th, this year’s theme of ‘Each for Equal’ has never been more pertinent. Despite the progress that has been made for women in the workplace, the truth is that universal gender equality is still a long way off. The 2020 Global Gender Gap Report highlighted this fact in startling detail, revealing that gender parity will not be attained for another 99.5 years. That’s not just our lifetimes, but also the lifetimes of our children.

To me, as the leader of an organisation where the majority of my selling and operating regions are run exclusively by female led management teams, I can clearly see that the wider world is missing a trick. A woman’s perspective, way of working and ability to influence within a business, can differ entirely to a man’s. For a business to be successful, it must foster an environment that welcomes different perspectives, new ideas and ways of working, otherwise how else does it expect to adapt and succeed? Women represent half of the world’s talent, so to approach their involvement in business with any preconceived gender bias, seems ludicrous.

I categorically know that Trafalgar would not be the brand it is today, were it not for the women that have shaped its past, present or future, and neither would I.

My respect and admiration for women goes back to the early years of my life. My parents separated in the late 60’s, and so because of this I was able to gain a unique insight into the female world. Raised in a predominantly female household by my mother, together with my 2 older sisters and younger brother, even from an early age I began to comprehend how my mother and sisters saw things differently to me, and in turn how I could learn from them. The situations they often found themselves in as women, and the hurdles they often had to overcome, were so different to my own.

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Listening to the conversations between my mother and sisters, I used to be fascinated by the female perspective, and the way in which they could understand or empathise with a situation in a completely different way to me. This perspective stood in stark contrast to the all boys school I attended growing up. By day, I was surrounded by male conversations, and the classic ‘boys will be boys’ sentiment that still prevails to this day. But by night, and at all other times, I was living in a woman’s world.

It is this influence, and this ability to understand these two completely different ways of thinking, that I have carried through into my professional life. From the early days, I’ve always surrounded myself with strong, courageous women, and today it’s no different. Trafalgar’s European operating team is run entirely by women. Our product operations in Asia and Africa, are run by women. Our global marketing team are run by female executives. Our largest selling office in the USA, is run by women, as are our teams in the UK, Singapore and South Africa. Each of these regions, and every individual within the team, exemplifies what true leadership, innovation and grit, stands for.

I count myself lucky every day, that I’m able to work with such phenomenal women, and that each night I get to go home to the other resounding force in my life – my wife Toni – the woman who pushes me every day to be a better man.

So this International Women’s Day, as we talk about Each for Equal and the continued fight for gender equality, I want to showcase 3 women who are at the absolute top of their game. I spoke to these women about their experience of working for Trafalgar, and here’s what they said…

I have never had to justify myself as a ‘woman in technology’. I have gotten the exact support and vote of confidence, as anyone in my role irrespective of gender, should get. I think this only comes to show how inherently advanced The Travel Corporation and Trafalgar in particular are, to support and respect women in leadership – Deyana, VP Digital Marketing

Working across the development of our brand’s content, I am forever encouraged to think differently, and from a view point I may not have thought of. This exercise pushes me out of my comfort zone and encourages active discussion and lively debate. This is never about being a woman, I never feel like I’m not being heard and I know my opinion matters. I don’t just have a seat the table, I belong to be there – Claire, Creative Director

Whilst working for Trafalgar, I feel like I’ve grown from being a manager, to now a leader. I surround myself with smart people who balance each other’s skillsets and I love watching my team develop and grow. I am surrounded by so many powerful women who take charge and lead by example. I am encouraged to challenge the team and myself daily, and I’m not afraid to speak up and have a voice. I do not accept the answer “because we’ve always done it this way”. Rita, VP of Marketing and Communications for Trafalgar USA

RELATED CONTENT: Recognising women in business – Trafalgar’s Rita Kelly

All that leaves me to say, is that as so many businesses still fail to recognise the immeasurable talent of their female workforce, it fills me with pride and confidence for the future of Trafalgar, Costsaver and Brendan Vacations. This is because whatever the future has in store, I know I will always steer the ship in partnership with the women who help guide these great brands with me. We will always continue to thrive and do better, to hire the right people for the right roles, irrelevant of gender, and to recognise and nurture our incredible female talent from within.

So, isn’t it about time the rest of the world stopped missing a trick?

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