In the five decades or so since the world saw its first female head of state, Sirivamo Bandaranaike, and first female Fortune 500 CEO, Katharine Graham of the Washington Post, things have moved slowly in gender diversity.
UN Women says that today there are just ten female heads of state and nine heads of government. A paper from the Peterson Institute for International Economics which analysed diversity in some 22,000 firms globally found that just over half had no female C-suite executives. But there are positive signs of change too.
Egencia’s parent company the Expedia group has long been a champion for gender representation as part of its wider diversity initiatives.
Last summer, Expedia released information about their gender pay parity and representation of women in the company. It showed that women make up 52% of the workforce and are paid one dollar for every dollar paid to men in equivalent roles. Furthermore, in June 2016, the company was one of a handful of private firms which signed the U.S. Government’s Equal Pay Pledge.
Women also make up 33% of Expedia’s executive, senior and manager-level positions. However, Expedia has noted that this isn’t good enough and is committed to achieving parity across all levels.
One of the crucial arguments in favour of diversity in the workplace is that a diverse company better reflects its customer base. Various studies have shown that women are the principal decision-makers when it comes to travel. In the corporate world, 40% of business travellers are women, according to the Global Business Travel Association, and this number is growing. Travel managers are also more often female; in the five years to 2015, the percentage of travel managers responding to BTN’s annual travel manager survey was between 66%-72%. Women’s influence on travel does not stop there – they also make anywhere between 75%-95% of the decisions on holiday destination, according to numerous surveys.
Therefore, for companies like Egencia and Expedia, having products and services that meet the needs of women is vital, and one of these ways is through ensuring that a company has a diverse workforce to build these products.
While Egencia and its parent company are leaders in gender diversity, this is no time for complacency.
Melissa Hannigan, Global Director of Talent Acquisition for Egencia brand says, “We recognise by striving for gender balance, we get access to a broader range of talent and get more innovative teams. And we have the data to back it up,” she says, highlighting the company’s data-driven culture.
One key component that is often seen to influence managers in who they employ is their unconscious bias – an unrealised bias that can be determined by our background, environment and personal experiences. Expedia and Egencia are taking a lead in addressing unconscious bias in recruitment by testing a variety of technologies and training.
“One such test has been seeing whether using blind resumés (CVs), with the name of the candidate removed, makes an impact or not,” says Hannigan. ”Our goal is that by removing the name that we automatically remove the unconscious bias that a reviewer has because of assigning a gender to the candidate. By testing this in certain areas across the business we are able to determine the success and impact of it before rolling out globally,” she says.
Additionally, the company looks at how gender neutral job adverts impact the type of candidates applying for positions. Hannigan notes that, “What we found is that many job adverts have a masculine bias to them. Words like ‘manage’ attract more male candidates whereas ‘lead’ attracts more females. Just like with blind resumes, we tested this across certain areas of the business and saw positive results and have now rolled it out company-wide”.
Expedia is also involved in several external initiatives, including supporting the Grace Hopper Conference for women in computing and offering summer internship programs like Girls Who Code.
Many of these efforts are in their early stages but so far results are positive. Expedia and Egencia continue to be committed to expanding their efforts and implementing supportive platforms for retaining and building women’s careers at all levels and look forward to how these results positively impact the business.
Expedia release: http://www.expediainc.com/news-release/?aid=123323&fid=99&yy=2016
Paper from the Peterson Institute for International Economics: http://www.piie.com/publications/wp/wp16-3.pdf
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