Here's How Booking.com is Addressing the Tech Industry's Gender Bias Problem
Booking.com was created when two companies, Netherlands based bookings.nl and Bookings.org (also known as Bookings Online) merged in 2000. The name was changed to Booking.com and in 2005 the company was purchased by US travel company the Priceline Group for $161 million.
Today Booking.com is a truly global brand, operating in 43 different languages. The Priceline Group employs over 18,000 staff, and enjoys revenues of $10,743 million, placing it at #268 on the Fortune 500 .
Having been operating in the online space since its beginnings, Booking.com has seen digital technology grow from a niche market, to the dominant business force on the planet. However, some elements of society appear to have been side-lined by the boom.
Women in Tech
(Image source: newyorker.com )
Booking.com carried out its own independent research into the much reported gender bias in the tech industry. The research suggests the perception of gender bias starts during the recruitment process. More than two thirds of respondents reported that they didn't feel benefit packages were adapted to women (68%) and that tech based vacancies are advertised more often to men (75%).
46% of women felt they are treated differently in the workplace because of their gender, and this percentage rises as you move up the corporate ladder, with 59% of women in senior management roles and 58% of executive board members also experiencing discrimination. 57% of women in senior management roles also indicated they had been passed over for promotion in favor of male colleagues, compared to 37% of females in junior roles.
"Driving change and achieving gender diversity starts at the top and we must encourage more positive role models for women across all functions in the tech industry. We know the majority of women see compelling benefits to working in technology, and we must collaborate as a sector to encourage non-tech professional women to enter the tech industry, and better support them to achieve their fullest potential," said Gillian Tans , CEO of Booking.com.
A Two-Pronged Plan
Booking.com has two initiatives in the pipeline which it believes will help address the inequalities discovered by its own research.
Firstly, the company announced its intention to host the Technology Playmaker Awards . The awards are to be given across ten categories and are designed to celebrate those women who have disrupted, and continue to transform businesses, industries, and communities with technology. Each category winner will receive international recognition, along with EUR5,000 to help achieve their business and professional goals. The overall winner will receive a EUR10,000 award.
"As one of the most successful European start-ups, we are proud to launch these awards to celebrate the women who are inspiring and innovating across the digital sector in Europe," said Tans . "Diversity of all kinds has been core to Booking.com's culture since the company was founded 20 years ago and more than half of our workforce today is comprised of women. Preserving our position as one of the most diverse and gender-balanced tech companies in the world is as important to us today as it was at the start."
Secondly is a scholarship program in partnership with the University of Oxford and Delft University of Technology . The program will offer women interested in studying for a career in tech grants totaling EUR500,000 (across both university partnerships) towards their education and career progression. A total of 15 scholarships will be available starting in the 2018-19 academic year.
Tans went on to say, "Women are still heavily under-represented in a range of areas of post-graduate study which are relevant to building a successful career in tech. By introducing the Women in Technology Scholarships, we hope we can drive change, increase diversity and demonstrate that there are exciting opportunities in tech for talented women from across the EU and beyond."
A more diverse workforce in the tech industry can only benefit the business moving forwards, and it's great to see Booking.com taking the initiative to get the ball rolling.
The final word goes to Booking.com's Chief Executive Officer, Gillian Tans.
"As a company powered by technology and digital innovation, Booking.com believes strongly in ensuring equal access and opportunity for all within the technology sector. Recognizing that female participation in technology is lower than it should be, we are committed to bolstering female tech talent, eliminating obstacles and challenges they face, and fostering diversity."
You can hear Booking.com's Regional Director of Global Chains and Ecommerce, Louis Zameryka, speak at Digital Travel 2018 in April/May at the Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa, Nevada.
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