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Wendy Wu GM Steve Richards: “We have to fix the pay gap, it has to be closed”

Ali Coulton

It’s that time of year again!

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, the day when we all shove our noggins together and come up with innovative ideas of how industries can improve key issues facing women from all walks of life.

It’s also a time for us to celebrate all the women around us kicking butt and getting stuff done.

If you can’t tell, we’re pretty damn excited.

So excited, we decided to have a chat with Wendy Wu GM Steve Richards to talk about all the problems faced by women in the travel industry.

He’s pretty excited about International Women’s day too, in fact, he thinks women play a crucial role in the industry.

“Women bring much more knowledge on non-verbal cues, empathy, and collaboration,” Richards said.

“This kind of diversity can bring a higher overall collective intelligence, better decision making and innovation.”

Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency reports the gender pay gap is still at around 15 per cent, with men working full-time making an average of $257.70 more each week than a woman working full-time.

“There’s still pay gap issues out there, we’re seeing more women in leadership roles, that’s a positive outcome, but I don’t think the pay gap balances appropriately for those women that are climbing to those high positions in the travel industry,” Richards acknowledged.

“We’re all equally intelligent as each other and there’s no reason why men and women who’ve proven themselves in the same position can’t get the same pay.”

“So, you have to fix that pay gap and it has to be closed and it has to be better than it is.”

Richards also expressed his frustration with the way career-minded women are viewed in the workforce.

“What I find personally upsetting is this whole career mentality between males and females.”

“If a male is a career addict, its almost always praised and respected but it’s not so the case with females.”

“I don’t find that fair at all.”

“A female wants to be very career focused and driven to the point where she hasn’t had a family or something, it’s actually frowned upon by both genders.”

He also believes both men and women should be given more support and flexibility when it comes to family life.

“Why can’t there be more investment from the industry in childcare to the point where companies even buy into daycare facilities or set them up in our offices to offer more support?”

“By not providing more support there, we lose a lot of good quality women in this industry.”

And when asked about gender diversity in his own company, he couldn’t be more proud.

“I don’t think there’s a stronger gender diverse company than ours.”

“Our founder Wendy Wu herself is an entrepreneur and a game changer in the industry, she forged ahead when there were very few women able to do that, and is still a daily inspiration and motivation to our business.”

“She’s one of the smartest people I’ve met in my career and I see daily how much of an impact her success has on us, we’re 80 per cent female here, and 85 per cent female in the senior leadership team.

“Its all-female dominated senior leadership team, apart from myself. And it’s a successful team.”

“We’re doing really well, we’ve got double digit growth, so the diversity in gender in our company has proven very successful.”

And the travel industry in general?

“I think the industry’s done a great job, I think more than any other industry I can see in terms of gender diversity and growth and leadership opportunities for women.”

“But I still think there’s improvements to be made, definitely, I still think the pay gaps are there, the support isn’t there, and the discrimination on female career addicts is still across our industry.”


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