Events Diversity in Leadership Program

2021 Diversity in Leadership Program

Phocuswright's Diversity in Leadership program sparks discussions and actions around the gender gap, diversity, anti-bias, allyship, culture, recruitment and much more.

Travel has been pushed to the brink, but is coming back! Many travel companies and travel distribution technologies have been forced to make tough choices that have significantly reduced their teams during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the burden of care and education increases with closed schools and lockdowns globally, women at all levels are stepping off the career path – for now. This, of course, disproportionately impacts people of color. At the same time, recent research by McKinsey & Co. reaffirms that teams with diverse perspectives – and leadership – perform better and thrive by innovating during tough situations.

What practical steps can we embrace as an industry as we rebuild strong, diverse, inclusive teams? What are some best practices that can inform our decisions as we intentionally recruit people to reflect the diverse needs of the consumer travelers we ultimately serve?

See the session videos to explore recruiting, culture and more as we navigate our way back from the brink and into the future of travel.

Session Videos


11:00am - 11:10am
Re-Centering and Reemerging: Why Diversity Matters Even More
Kimberly Newbury, Vice President, Sales, Northstar Travel Group Singapore, Global Travel Technology Group

11:10am - 11:35am
Executive Interview: How Does the “Persistent Reality of Hope” Help us to Thrive?
Blair Taylor, Managing Director Talent & Organization and N. American Lead Inclusion & Diversity (I&D), Accenture
Interviewer: Jill Menze, News Editor, PhocusWire

11:35am - 11:50am
From Crisis to Recovery: Achieving an Equal Future in a Post-COVID-19 World
How has the pandemic disproportionately impacted women and girls and how can business leaders re-align priorities and rise to the challenge of building a future that has equality at its heart?
Simon Gallow, Advocate, UN Women UK

11:50am - 12:30pm
Executive Roundtable: Re-Centering, Recruiting, and Rebuilding: The Way Forward for Travel
An expert panel evaluates the priorities facing companies large and small in the travel space asking “how do we get there from here"?
Susann Almasi, Associate Partner, Travel, Logistics & Infrastructure, McKinsey & Company
Stephanie M. Jones, Founder & CEO, Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, Inc. (CHEA)
Susie Vowinkel, Industry Director, Travel, Google
Moderator: Kristina Liburd, Founder & CEO, Viageur

Interactive Workshops:

12:30 - 2:00pm
The Pandemic and the DEI Paradox by Expedia Group:
The Hackathon of DEI: Through interactive breakouts, the workshop aims to solve for one of three paradoxes: Remote Work and Flexibility, Shifting Family Care and Responsibilities and The Future of Hybrid Work.

Moderator: Cintia O. Tavella, Strategic Partnerships, Expedia Group

Act for Equal (By invitation only):
Sponsored by Google
Before the pandemic, we were 100 years away from achieving gender equality. And now, this virus could wipe out 25 years of advances in women's rights and empowerment. We all have a role to play to make sure these achievements are not reversed, and that women and girls across the world have the same opportunities as men. The travel, tourism and hospitality sectors have borne the brunt of the economic fallout from the pandemic, and women, often in low paid, insecure work, have shouldered much of this burden. Now is the time for business leaders to rise to the challenge of building a future that has equality at its heart. Join UN Women UK to understand effective, tangible action that business leaders can take to create a more inclusive organization, that considers the needs of all, learning from best practices case studies from across the world.

Moderator: Simon Gallow is an Advocate for UN Women UK, having been Development Director, and a Policy Analyst in the UN Women Economic Empowerment Division in New York. He is also a Strategist and the Co-lead for Women's Equality at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and holds a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) from Cambridge University.


Susann Almasi
Associate Partner, Travel, Logistics & Infrastructure, McKinsey & Company

Kristina Liburd
Founder & CEO, Viageur

Cintia Tavella
Strategic Partnerships, Expedia Group
Simon Gallow
Advocate, UN Women UK

Jill Menze
News Reporter, PhocusWire

Blair Taylor
Managing Director Talent & Organization and N. American Lead Inclusion & Diversity (I&D), Accenture
Stephanie M. Jones
Founder & CEO, Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, Inc. (CHEA)

Kimberly Newbury
Vice President, Sales, Northstar Travel Group Singapore, Global Travel Technology Group

Susie Vowinkel
Industry Director, Travel, Google

Attending Companies

Adventure Tripr Inc.
Airline Tariff and Publishing Company
Air Sea Transport & Tours
All 4U Consulting & Media
Amazon Web Services
American Airlines
American Express Global Business Travel
Amt Technology

Black Travel Alliance
Booking Holdings
Brand USA
Buja Tours & Safaris

Capital One
CCRA International
Charrisma Travel
Clear Sky Associates
Cornerstone Information Systems

Delta Air Lines Destination DC
Direct Travel
Drew Canada

Economic Alliance, Inc. (CHEA)
Euphoria Travel
Expedia Group
Ezee Fly Solutions


Grand Canal Hotel

Hotel Des Indes
HP Inc

Innisfree Hotels
Inspiring Women in Hospitality

James Cook University
Japan Airlines


Lufthansa Innovation Hub

McDonald's Corp
Marriott International
McKenzie Gayle Limited
McKinsey & Company
Microsoft Advertising

Navesink Advisory Group, LLC
Neem Tree Hospitality
Northstar Travel Group

Odysseus Solutions

Pack Up + Go
projekt202 | Big Nerd Ranch

Rakuten Travel
Rogers Aviation

ROI Media Consultants
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
Sepatur Dunia Blog
SIPR, Inc.
SPANNing the Globe Tours
Sportscorp Travel Swiss Re

Telford and Wrekin Council
The Ascott
The Oxford Centre for Leadership UK
The Sophisticated Life LLC & The Black Alliance
Thoughtworks, Ltd.
Tour East, CTEH Group
Travel Hub 365
Travel Unity
Trip Mate / Generali
Trisept Solutions
Turkish Airlines

United Airlines
UN Women UK

Vacation Innovations
VAX VacationAccess
Visit Britain
Visit Lauderdale

Watch This Sp_ce
Women in Travel cic
Women Leading Travel & Hospitality
Worldpay by FIS
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Let Your Voice Be Heard

In Phocuswright-style, we'll deliver data and trends, brilliant leaders, discussions, challenges and calls-to-action … all designed to encourage growth and smart thinking around tough topics.

If you would like to contribute and can share your own initiatives toward Diversity in Leadership, please
email Kimberly Newbury .

"Our latest analysis reaffirms the strong business case for both gender diversity and ethnic and cultural diversity in corporate leadership— and shows that this business case continues to strengthen. The most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform non-diverse companies on profitability."
Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters - McKinsey & Co. May 2020

57% of women and 38% of men cite ‘bias among management’ as an obstacle for travel industry professionals to rise to the top according to the 2019 Phocuswright Gender Equity Study

"We see bright spots at senior levels. But companies need to focus their efforts earlier in the pipeline to make real progress."
LEAN IN Study - Women in the Workplace 2018

"More senior leaders at companies – 73% – say achieving equality for women in the workplace is a priority, up from 56% four years ago.​" ​
Vanessa  Fuhrmans, Oct. 15, 2019 ​ - The Wall Street Journal

"Research from Harvard Business School and other sources advises companies to recruit a diverse team and specifically ensure there is an environment where members feel comfortable and confident expressing their opinions. It’s critical that team members don’t feel intimidated in group sessions, allowing for their best thinking to come forward. Thus, I would expect diverse leadership teams to solve problems more effectively."
Kweilin Ellingrud, Jan 20, 2019 - Forbes