IWD: Yvette Thompson on how Intrepid empowers women across the globe

IWD: Yvette Thompson on how Intrepid empowers women across the globe

It’s International Women’s Day and we’ve decided to have a yarn with some of the industry’s leading women!

Here, we’ve chatted with Intrepid’s GM Sales & Partnerships, Yvette Thompson, on how her company not only tackles women’s issues in Australia, but in countries where the quality of life for women falls behind.

Travel Weekly: What’s your favourite way that Intrepid empowers women in the workplace?

Yvette Thompson: When I talk about the workplace I’m going to reference the global workplace here, because I absolutely love how our range of women’s expeditions trips around the world have empowered women into holding jobs that they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to educate women travellers and to make global female connections. To have a Nepal trekking trip for example, with a 100 per cent female team of porters and leaders is absolutely fantastic and I love what these trips are doing for our staff, our supply chain and our travellers

TW: What’s something that Intrepid is looking to promote this IWD?

YT: Intrepid has recently partnered with Market Development Facility (MDF), an Australian Government initiative promoting sustainable economic development in neighbouring regions, to support female empowerment through training and career development in the traditionally male-dominated Sri Lankan tourism sector.

Women’s participation in the country’s travel and tourism industry is low, with estimates suggesting that just 10 per cent of the workforce comprises women, while female ownership of SMEs is projected to be around just 25 per cent nationally.

The partnership will aim to build capacity for female suppliers to become more market ready and create a pipeline for employment as trip leaders. Intrepid currently employs four female trip leaders in a total pool of 30 in Sri Lanka and has committed to increasing female representation by 40-50 per cent by 2025.

In addition, women have not historically been a target market for tour operators in the country, so the partnership will seek to expand the number of experiences which are attractive to a female travelling demographic and scope the potential for a new Women’s Expedition.

TW: Where do you think, in the broader travel industry, there’s room for improvement in terms of women’s issues?

YT: The one benefit out of COVID has been more flexible working arrangements for many and of course this is extremely beneficial for females with families. However, I still think there is much more we can do to help women with childcare and working. I’d love to see childcare in offices so that women don’t have to part from their young children for whole days.

TW: How is Intrepid tackling the gender pay gap?

YT: As a responsible tour operator, Intrepid Travel has a history of championing gender equality and inclusiveness – through our business, with our people, on our trips and via our not-for-profit, the Intrepid Foundation. We recognise that gender pay equity is a systemic issue and we will continue to adapt our policies to support a more inclusive and equitable environment for all team members.

As with many companies, the main driver of Intrepid’s overall gender pay gap is its workforce gender composition. Although the middle layers are balanced, the organisation’s senior leadership team in Australia are predominantly men (72%) while its junior professionals are predominantly women (78%).

The result is that the higher proportion of women at the lower pay quartiles is driving Intrepid’s gender pay gap.

A key focus for Intrepid is continuing to improve gender diversity in parts of the business where women are currently underrepresented and introducing new strategies to continue closing our gender pay gap in Australia.

TW: What are some itineraries that Intrepid finds quite popular with women? Which of these particularly sparks your interest?

YT: This goes back to your first question. Our women’s expeditions are extremely popular. The range is amazing – across Morocco, Turkey, Nepal and Pakistan to name a few. Our GM marketing, Louise Laing, recently returned from our women’s expedition in India and the joy in her face as she recounts her experiences has sold me!

TW: Tell me about a women’s initiative in a travel company (other than Intrepid) that you admire.

YT: I think Mel Waters Ryan left a real legacy behind with her creation of Womenwise. It was a great initiative to really provide women with clear pathways and mentors and I love that it’s still alive and strong today.

TW: Where do you think Intrepid has room for improvement regarding women’s issues?

YT: One of our big focuses is setting targets at each level of the business to achieve a more balanced gender composition, particularly at the most senior and most junior levels. This is a key factor in addressing and reducing the gender pay gap.

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