Firstly, thank you for your continued and active support for one another as members of the Women in Tourism Australia (WiT) network. Based on the increase in members to the Facebook group (1,600 before the end of 2019 to more than 2,000 now!) and all the great discussions, it shows that this group has been especially important to you in recent months. Last year, we shared that we are thinking about what the next 5 years of WiT could look like. Where was this group going and could we have a more meaningful impact?
Our vision is to leave a collective legacy; us with you. We asked ourselves what, why and how for WiT?
These are big questions so we engaged expert guidance. We commissioned specialist Deanna Varga, MD of Mayvin Global to undertake a strategic review of WiT.
Our brief was:
to examine the value WiT creates for its members now
how we could most benefit members in the next two to three years
how we can have an impact over the next decade, which defines the legacy we could create
WHAT YOU TOLD US We started with a survey of members, one-to-one depth interviews with senior leaders in our sector, and market analysis to outline options. These help us answer, ‘Where to from here?’
Starting with the survey to all members, 146 of you shared your feedback and ideas. Thank you to everybody who gave us your time and ideas.
We are heartened by the support you offered. Several big themes came through.
WiT is unanimously valued by members for its role in facilitating connections and thoughtful conversations between members.
WiT is considered a warm and safe space in which to connect, talk and support each other. Affordable events are an element in creating an inclusive space. This is a valuable strength of WiT that we do not want to weaken.
Members value the events and speakers. They appreciate that we experiment with venues so that we can experience and support colleagues in our own sector. This effort is recognised and enjoyed. You said clearly, keep the events.
You would like WiT to be national. We have members in several states. You aspire to WiT expanding its support to a larger group of women outside the eastern states to offer full national support including regional areas where many tourism operators are located.
Your expectations of a group like WiT include macro and micro support:
80% said regular events for networking
76% said regular events for professional development
62% said you would like mentoring programs
50% said careers guidance and support
44% said they expect a group like WiT to take a lobbying role
Members and interviewees are also clear about their hopes of WiT in future. You said you would like the future to include:
More of what we do now without formalising the relaxed atmosphere that is felt within our network.
By contrast, there’s energy to formalise several new avenues to support each other through our careers, ideally increasing the number of women in decision making executive roles and in the boardroom.
For example, members asked if WiT could facilitate mentoring relationships. You would like tiers of support. For example, interest in mentor/mentee support came from students through to senior-level women, many of whom consider they are flying solo too. Given 62% or two thirds of respondents have 10 years or more experience it is an interesting and important finding that senior women seek support too.
Most interesting to us, you see a place for WiT as an advocate, lobbying for change. Critically, there is energy behind holding the sector to account for its actions not just its words.
Several examples of gender imbalance come up almost every week, “Men on the stage, women in the audience. Again.” We are looking closely at this and how best to speak out.
You see a role for us in strengthening the voice for diversity beyond gender. We did not expect to hear such resounding confidence in our collective voice and our ability to make an impact.
We want to and will work with men (not despite them).
Leverage our international networks. You said there are opportunities for WIT to support or build on our international network – and exchange program that is truly educational in the tourism space does not currently exist. (But there are good examples within the business events space).
Finally, we will draw on other groups to learn what has worked from them. There is no need to reinvent. As you hear, there is plenty to do with our time!
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
I am working through the findings and recommendations. We need to examine what is desirable and feasible. Then we must work through how. Another BIG question. To date we have been run on energy and passion. To achieve bigger things needs a more substantial framework.
So really, nothing major will change for now. However, we will slowly explore how Women in Tourism can keep evolving to achieve what this network wants and needs.
A final note of thanks to the Mayvin Global team - Deanna Varga and the crew she brought in to assist with developing this strategy – Dr Lynda Kelly, Kirsty Simmonds and their intern they found through WiT – Ashleigh Fitzpatrick.
We will keep you posted!
Co-Founder Women in Tourism (Australia)