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Trafalgar's Gavin Tollman on being better at gender balance in business

Trafalgar’s CEO, Gavin Tollman, takes time out of his schedule to share his thoughts on the state of the industry. This month, he equality in the workforce.

Trafalgar’s CEO, Gavin Tollman, takes time out of his schedule to share his thoughts on the state of the industry. This month, he equality in the workforce.

“We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”

I recently came across this quote from Sheryl Sandberg. It resonated with me both personally and professionally, and particularly relevant to this year’s theme for International Women’s Day #BalanceforBetter

I couldn’t be more grateful for the exceptional women that create balance in my world. The females leading the charge in my universe are my wife Toni and her mother Bea. With their remarkable combination of strength, courage, vision, passion and compassion, to me they are a daily example of what balance in life represents.

Across our business, I remain focused on ensuring that true gender equality becomes a reality and is forever integral to the DNA of our brand. In the past year we’ve committed to an even greater advancement of women in our business; in reviewing our female ratio, it fills me with immense pride to see our sustained and steady growth in gender equality. Overall we’ve bettered our balance, with the brand comprising 84% females in Australia.

We all have a critical part to play. Balance drives a better working world and isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.

Wherever I travel, I find myself engaging with inspirational women, which increasingly play a more prominent role in our business. This year, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Be My Guest, which blazed a trail that satiated the desire for travellers to engage locally and authentically. More than a third of our BMGs in Europe are fronted by female enterprise. These are a few:


Travelling in Tuscany to meet Giada


As the owner of Villa Il Leccio, a successful agri-turismo enterprise in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Giada Landi seeks inspiration from the strongest woman in her life.

“I am inspired by my mother, a great woman who preserved our family’s legacy and lovingly passed down our family traditions from generation to generation,” she says.

These traditions are generously shared with Trafalgar guests during each Be My Guest experience that is hosted at Giada’s home, a 19th-century villa that she still lives in today with her own family. Prepared by Giada herself, guests can tuck into an Italian feast made from ingredients grown on the property and wash it all down with locally-produced Chianti.


Travelling in Demicidere to meet the female Muhtars


Further afield there’s a destination and a dynamic group of ladies that found themselves in a situation that made it imperative for them to reshape the conversation (to quote Sheryl) and needed to #BalanceforBetter to sustain their livelihood.

The small village of Demicidere is home to quite possibly Turkey’s most empowered and liberated women, having elected their first female muhtar (head of village) in 1933.

Fast forward eight decades to discover the pine-nut production in the village decimated by an insect infestation. With a rapidly diminishing economy, the community came together. Driven by the women, with Trafalgar’s support, they opened up their homes to welcome guests from around the globe the chance to break bread with them, quite literally.

In partaking in this particularly humbling Be My Guest, Trafalgar travellers are benefitting the local community and enabling the production of jam, raisins and wine, as well as fostering a positive culture of equality for Turkish women. The ladies wear dresses with a kaleidoscope of colourful sequins, believing shiny things deflect negative energy.


How does your company, like Trafalgar, encourage and support women in the workforce?