Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Trouble With Empowerment

Online female magazine Broadsheet reported a couple of weeks ago that in her latest column for Fortune, Ellevest co-founder and CEO Sallie Krawcheck writes about why she's over so-called women's empowerment. "The term has always bothered me," she writes. "I thought it was because it was so widely used, or that I've been involved in too many toothless women's 'empowerment initiatives,'" writes Krawcheck. "But then I looked up the meaning: Empower (verb): to give power or authority to. That’s it. That’s the issue: to give power or authority. To give. So, to empower women, power must be given to them. Presumably by an entity that already has it.'  She then goes on to say that  instead of hanging our hopes on empowerment the conversation must be about "power—using and growing the power we women already have."

I want to share my thoughts on this, because I actually disagree with Sally. Personally I believe that the term 'empowerment' is absolutely correct, precisely because of its definition. Women need to be given power. But - and here is the 'hard nut to crack' - not by the 'patriarchy' as Sally puts it or by the establishments. I actually believe that women need to give themselves that permission, to hold that power and make s*** happen! 

Unfortunately women often deny themselves that power, take away the permission to feel that they can and must pursue their dreams, their mission, their opportunities. As a coach and as somebody who works with women on a regular basis I see this happening again and again: even women who are already in position of power can be ridden with self-doubt and impostor syndrome and deny themselves the chance to grab that power with both hands.

To be empowered we first of all must think that we can and we must hold and use the power that's within us. We must give ourselves permission to aspire to powerful roles, positions and opportunities or simply aspire to identify and use power in whatever way we choose and see fit.

The fact that often other people think they can withdraw power from us is often a reflection of our own self esteem and self-belief. The 'patriarchy' picks up on the vibes in the room... If we don't believe in ourselves, if we don't believe we can why should anyone else?

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here. 

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Why I Set Up #Women in #Travel As Part Of My Commitment To Women

It wasn't a new year resolution as such, it just happened to take place in early January. In the first week of the new year 2017 my registration for Women in Travel CIC finally came through. CIC stands for Community Interest Company; in practical terms, it means that it is a limited company with a (BIG) social aim. That to me makes all the difference and I hope also the impact.

So why did I do that?

The answer to those who know me is very simple. I have a background in travel and tourism and over the last decade and a half I have worked tirelessly to support women, not just in travel but across other sectors. However travel (and tourism, hospitality and events by extension) remains the industry that is closest to my heart because that is where I started all those years ago.

Some people don't see an issue with #gender and #diversity in travel and tourism, but I have spent the best part of 15 years proving otherwise. Women are very much attracted to the sector, I agree. But are they retained? Are they fully supported? Are they enabled to climb the ladder or even simply to maximise their contribution? Well, that's where our opinion may differ.

Beside, there is the very important issue of entrepreneurship.  You see, female entrepreneurship is touted around as the next big thing. But although it is the fastest growing area, in the UK women owned businesses only amount to 17/18% of all businesses. Surely we can do more and better - after all women are the ones who will keep the economy going in those difficult years according to some. I quote here Womanthology :  'research from McKinsey tells us that it’s women who are capable of driving economic growth, to the tune of, wait for it, $12 trillion if we only give them the chance.

Travel and tourism as a sector continues to grow. We love our leisure time and notwithstanding economic and political uncertainty it is becoming more and more difficult for many of us in 'lucky' parts of the world, to forego our hard-earned holidays. So the sector is thriving according to United Nations World Tourism Organisation: 
  • International tourist arrivals grew by 4.6 % in 2015 to 1,184 million
  • In 2015, international tourism generated US$ 1.5 trillion in export earnings
  • UNWTO forecasts a growth in international tourist arrivals of between 3.5% and 4.5% in 2016
  • By 2030, UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to reach 1.8 billion (UNWTO Tourism Towards 2030)
I want women to share in and contribute to the growth of the sector. I want them to benefit through entrepreneurship and through connecting, learning, mentoring and upskilling.  So this is my mission  for Women in Travel CIC:  Women in Travel aims to leverage a thriving global travel and tourism industry and its suppliers to provide women with the opportunity to fulfil their economic and individual potential through education, engagement and entrepreneurship.   

This will be done by:

1.   Providing women internationally with a platform for coming together, learn from each other and feel inspired to progress their career through a variety of events, workshop and initiatives, most noticeably the ones already taking place successfully in London and Dubai during World Travel Market – the premier B2B travel fair globally – which we hope to expand to include WTM Africa (Cape Town) and Latin America (Sao Paulo)  

2.   Working in partnership with industry, governments and other interested parties, empower women to set up and grow their own travel and tourism business by undertaking projects aimed at reducing common barriers (such as access to funding) and acquiring practical skills.

As for my vision: 1. To become a recognised catalyst for women empowerment in the travel and tourism sector. 2. To provide communities in key regions ( specifically UK, Middle East, Africa and Latin America with a sustainable livelihood by enabling women to become economically independent through entrepreneurship and a thriving career in the travel and tourism industry.
I want to dream big because there is nothing stopping me. I know it will be a long journey but I hope many of you will join me.  Please get in touch if you think you can help, if you have any ideas or any feedback to share.

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.