Sounding Off: Stop burying your head in the sand over diversity in travel

Lauren von Stackelberg, Expedia Group

“Owning up to where you are is a good start.”

Lauren von Stackelberg, global head of inclusion and diversity, Expedia Group, in panel discussion at Phocuswright Europe 2020 focusing on diversity in leadership.


Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered by PhocusWire that week.

The Black Lives Matter movement continues to make its voice heard over the course of this mid-pandemic period.

The knock-on effect is rightly being felt across many industries, including travel, making companies take stock of their role in the diversity debate.

But travel companies can feel like they are floundering from the get-go.

They recognize there’s a problem, they see the challenges that need to be addressed but often they don’t know where to start.

Travel might be perceived as one of the most open industries in the world economy because when we travel we, hopefully, embrace other cultures, which in turn broadens our perception and understanding of the world and its people. 

Yet when it comes to bringing this into organizations on an individual level, businesses struggle.

This is okay. The important thing is to make a start. Lauren von Stackelberg, global head of inclusion and diversity, Expedia Group, says that just the act of “owning up” to where you are in the journey is a good beginning.

As part of a Diversity in Leadership session at the Phocuswright Europe 2020 online event earlier this week, von Stackelberg says that companies are going through a reckoning right now and, although this is not a new crisis, being open and honest about where you are, provides a starting point.

Others from the panel and beyond, echo this view, saying that getting things wrong is inevitable and companies should not beat themselves up about it.

Until the industry ensures there are more diverse voices at every level of an organization, it can’t truly know what the best strategy is.

Action is the important thing because it’s a step forward. It’s a drawing of a line in the sand for what has gone before and a commitment to change.

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