A quick glance at the travel gender pay table makes uncomfortable reading.
Ryanair is leading the way, if that’s the phrase, in the difference between average pay of men and women, with a gender pay gap of 72%, while the airlines Jet2, TUI Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines and EasyJet all have gender pay gaps of above 40%.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that men and women are paid differently for the same job, which would be illegal.
Instead it highlights that senior positions tend to be dominated by males.
There are reasons for this within airlines – around 97% of pilots are men.
Elsewhere, many travel companies have a gender pay gap of between 20-40%, while some of the retailers have a much lower gap, with Thomas Cook Retail at 5.4% and TUI Retail at 5.4%.
As an industry, we tend to be very good at bringing women in at entry level or middle management jobs, but not so good at promoting them to the very top positions.
When it comes to key appointments, people tend to hire those that are like them or that they identify with; the glass ceiling has not yet been knocked down.
However, there are huge benefits to a strict merit-based approach to hiring for key positions.
It’s not just about fairness.
A recent Credit Suisse report revealed that companies with more women in the boardroom bring better returns and outperform the stock market.
Fiona Hathorn, managing director of Women on Boards UK, said diverse boardrooms are often more successful than male-dominated boards because women bring different experiences and perspectives.
Speaking at the recent Barclays Travel Forum, Hathorn said: “Creative ideas in business tend to come from people who do not look like you.”
A diverse management team is also likely to be more collaborative as male leaders can be dominant characters.
“Make sure you don’t have any dominant leaders in your business,” she said. “Move away from hierarchical cultures as evidence shows that open, yet challenging, environments allow people to develop, leading to successful businesses.”
Hathorn is also keen for girls to learn about leadership at an early age and encourages parents to talk to their children about the boardroom at age 4.
“If you ask 4-year-olds what they want to be when they grow up, there are no gender differences. By age 6, girls attribute leadership qualities to boys,” she said.