Making 50:50 calls on equality and rugby, and watching flashing lights up ahead ‘round the bend

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

It’s Autumn here, going on November
I view the leaves in all their splendour
Is it déjà vu, I just can’t remember
I stop a while and take in the scene

– Van Morrison, Memory Lane

Bravo to DFNIFrontier for joining 50:50 The Equality Project, a BBC-led initiative to create and champion journalism and media content that fairly represents our world. One of its key goals is to shift representation within the media by striving to ensure an even split of coverage between male and female voices.

DFNI Editor Kapila Ireland wrote: “This is an editorially led initiative and commitment to diversity that I am particularly passionate about. The representation of the travel retail industry in the trade media is still very male-dominated. I feel it is important to amplify the voice of expert women in our sector through our magazine and conferences.”

I am not sure the under-representation applies in terms of leadership personnel on the publishing side of our industry (more of that in a moment) but Kapila is right on the money in terms of conference line-ups and editorial content. Gender, ethnic and cultural balance are all points I and my team think about hard when putting together a conference programme, for example with the Knowledge Hub at the recent Virtual Travel Retail Expo. But thinking about it and achieving it are not always one and the same, reflecting some residual imbalances in our industry.

Undoubtedly some of the best sessions at our Expo were those featuring women’s voices of immense intelligence and urgency. Perhaps no-one stood out more than Tegla Loroupe, the former world champion Kenyan distance runner, founder of the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation and Chef de Mission for the Olympic Refugee Team in Tokyo. What a simultaneously powerful, humane and beautiful conversation this was. I urge you to take a listen via the link below or go to the ‘On Demand’ function on the Expo platform (if you haven’t registered, simply go to www.VirtualTRExpo.com and do so in minutes for free as the show remains open).

Similarly, I found the session with Beam Suntory VP – Global Environmental Sustainability Kim Marotta and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Victoria Russell as illuminating (and enjoyable) as any I have moderated over more than 30 years of conference work. “Making a positive impact on the planet, consumers and communities isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s a must do for the sustainability of our business and humanity,” Kim said, echoing the philosophy of Beam Suntory President and CEO Albert Baladi.

Victoria, a member of the Beam Suntory Senior Leadership Team, is tasked with leading diversity and inclusion across talent acquisition, career development and employee retention, marketing and community relations. Her responsibilities also include improving organisational capability to better recognise bias and drive an inclusive mindset.

She introduced a number of Beam Suntory’s programmes which focus on their employees and communities, including a commitment to securing 1 million hours of volunteered efforts by 2030. Impressively, Beam Suntory employees are paid for three days of voluntary work every year (imagine what a difference travel retail could make if the whole industry adopted such a practice.) “We are on a journey and if it is truly going to be efficient it will take efforts from all of us,” she said.

Together with one of several star women on The Moodie Davitt Report team, newly promoted Brands Editor & Digital Marketing Manager Hannah Tan-Gillies, I chaired another inspiriting Knowledge Hub Session, with Women in Travel Thrive (WITT) Founder & Expedia Group North American Market Management & Lodging Senior Director Silvia Camarota alongside fellow WITT member Aer Rianta International Retail Analytics Manager Mary Wyse. Both underscored the impact of COVID-19 on workplace inequality and how the travel industry can transform to become more equal and inclusive.

As Silvia noted: “This community [WITT] was founded at the peak of the pandemic when everyone felt isolated. Women were leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men at that period. Across the industry, we wanted to reach out, connect with each other, offer words of support and encouragement, and find a way to create a special connection in these virtual times. What started as a support community grew into a bigger movement.”

There were many other outstanding contributions by women over the balance of that power-packed Knowledge Hub programme. Can we and other organisations do more to ensure less male domination in events of the future? For sure.

Back to my point about the publishing sector, it’s notable that most of the publications are led – editorially at least – by women. Kapila herself very ably leads DFNI, the title among our global rivals that I respect most in terms of integrity and overall professionalism. Hibah Noor and Lois Pasternak both do outstanding work with their regional titles, Charlotte Turner is a very able leader of Travel Retail Business and Wendy Gallagher in recent years of The Latin American Report.

The Moodie Davitt Report is led in both ownership and editorial terms by men (myself and Dermot Davitt) but the vast majority of senior management roles are held by women – Hannah Tan-Gillies, whom I mentioned; Publisher Irene Revilla; Vice President Sales & Events Sarah Genest; Chief Operating Officer Victoria Willey; WeChat Editor Penny Zhou; Database and Partner Manager Sinead Moodie; and Events & Marketing Manager Jess Howells. Add in the experience and ability of Associate Editor Colleen Morgan and Freelance Design Director Kiran Ghattaura and you have a superb collective team of great talent, dedication and professionalism.

Our company recognised from its formative days that if we allowed mothers to work from home then we could attract a wider talent base, something that allowed us to attract talents down the years such as Sarah Genest, Rebecca Mann and Claire Wates and retain others such as Sinead Moodie who have since had children.

Enlightened policies and where necessary positive discrimination are needed. Kapila’s points are well made and her company’s initiative worth applauding. There is not a single company in our industry, including us, that cannot do more to champion such principles.

Bravo also to Bernard and Rosemary Walsh, founders of Irish whiskey company Walsh Whiskey, whose sale to Amber Beverage Group was announced this week and which took effect yesterday. What a way to celebrate 11.11.

Regular readers of this Blog will know the fondness I have for the company and particularly for its outstanding pot-still whiskey Writers’ Tears.

I have enjoyed many a taoscán of it down the years, while enjoying the companys great passion for (and support of) all things Irish, including literature (James Joyce being to the fore) and… ahem… rugby. Bernard and his top PR man Conor Dempsey even had a bottle of Writers’ Tears specially labelled for me after the Irish team beat the All Blacks in Chicago back in November 2016 by 40 points to 29.

The Irish have won again since that historic day, in November (what is it about that month?) 2018, this time by 16 to 9.

Informed by my Irish business partner Dermot Davitt that most of the entrants in our pick the score contest for this Saturday’s showdown between the two sides in Dublin have opted for the men in green, I have decided to correct the balance. It may be November but the All Blacks will win 33-19 and normal service (see the table below) will be resumed.

Or will it? Maybe, like the BBC initiative it’s a 50:50 call. One thing I am sure of, however, is that my tipple for either toasting the result or drowning my sorrows will be Writers’ Tears. Will they be tears of joy or despair? Maybe it will be a draw and I can simply toast Bernard and Rosemary.

Source: Wikipedia

Besides conjuring up All Blacks v Ireland rugby encounters, I always think of Memory Lane, my favourite Van the man song, in November. I love its haunting sense of nostalgia, almost of resignation (I stop a while and ask some strangers/Is this the place that was once called Memory Lane/I don’t know where I am, don’t know what I’m after/I’m stuck here back on Memory Lane), its evocation of the changing seasons, and its powerful articulation of choice and destiny (One sign up ahead says ‘danger’/Another one says ‘stop’/One says ‘Yield this way’).

The changing of the seasons means of course that the second year in a COVID-dominated world is drawing to a close. I can’t believe that 2022 is approaching so fast in the headlights, bringing with it, we all hope, much better times for our world and for our sector. Who knows? (And there’s flashing lights up ahead ‘round the bend/The road curves and twists and turns/And twists and turns and wanders/‘Til you get, ‘til you get to the very end).

Apart from that inflicted on my big toe last week (see my most recent Blog), I haven’t had a proper break since 2019 but I am hoping that with an expanded team in place for the New Year (more of that in due course), I’ll have the chance to sit back a bit in 2022 and start to act my age in the nicest sense of the term. Yes, Van, it may be time to stop a while and take in the scene.

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