Fox World Travel, a male-owned company, has never made it its mission to appoint more women to leadership positions. Today, however, women make up half of the company’s management team and hold 74% of all management positions. Nearly two-thirds of the women in Fox leadership positions have been promoted from within.
That’s what happens when you invest in the growth and development of your employees, commit to removing barriers to women’s advancement, and reap the business benefits of bringing different perspectives, according to Director of Culture Audra Mead.
“In fact, it was not the result of strategic planning. It’s really organically supported by our leadership team,” Meade said.
In 2021, GBTA’s WINit recognized Fox’s positive track record in promoting the careers of female employees by presenting the firm with an Achievement Award for “creating a corporate culture to advance and succeed women.”
Fox World Travel is co-owned by CEO Chip Juedes and his father, David Juedes, son of the company’s founder. The travel retailer, headquartered in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was founded in 1960 and has 220 employees, 85% of whom are women. His business mix is 80% Corporate Events, 15% Leisure, and 5% Meetings & Incentives.
Tourism Market Report spoke with Mead to learn more about Fox’s approach to filling leadership positions. Below is an edited version of our conversation.
Why is it important to promote women to leadership positions?
Honey: Women leaders in positions of influence serve as excellent role models, which are critical to women’s career advancement.
We believe that gender inclusiveness leads to greater organizational success. The diversity of voices in a business discussion is priceless. It forms a more diverse vision of the organization in decision-making and strategic planning and provides a broader and clearer picture. I believe this has made us more innovative.
Why is the promotion of women in leadership positions important in the tourism industry?
Honey: The majority of employees or employees of the industry are women. But when you look at leadership positions, it doesn’t reflect that.
What are barriers?
Honey: Culture is one of the social barriers. These are also barriers within one’s own [company] culture and not recognizing where barriers exist for women who want career advancement.
We are talking about flexibility, which should be at stake after the epidemic. This was a big barrier for many women who wanted to take on leadership positions – there was no flexibility; it was not supported internally.
What has Fox World Travel done to promote women in leadership positions?
Honey: We actively seek out internal talent for promotion, encouraging employees to step outside their comfort zone to improve and enrich their careers.
A lot of it is succession planning – seeing what we have inside and how we can invest in those employees to go further…