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Merlin Entertainments Wins Women 1st Shine Award


Merlin Entertainments plc’s global HR team have won the Large Business Award in the Women 1st Shine Awards 2014.

Women 1st’s goal is to have one female candidate on the long list for every board or executive team position by 2017.  A 2009 study found that although women make up around 60 percent of the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism workforce, they account for only six percent of board-level directors. 

The Women 1st Shine Awards recognise employers who “go the extra mile” to support women’s career development in the hospitality, tourism, leisure, travel, passenger transport and retail industries.

Led by Group HR Director Tea Colaianni and supported by Chief Executive, Nick Varney, Merlin has developed the Women@Merlin programme.  (See interview with Colaianni here.)

Women@Merlin aims to build women’s confidence, provide encouragement to apply for senior roles and look at how best to balance family and work responsibilities.  The initiative’s goal is to ensure that Merlin has a diverse leadership, reflecting its customer base.  

Initiatives so far have included mixed workshops about unconscious bias; mentoring of junior women; a Women@Merlin LinkedIn community with access to ideas, workshops and recorded webinars, and an expectation that recruitment agents should identify suitable female candidates for all senior roles.

The scheme has been funded from within Merlin’s existing HR budget and feedback from female staff has been overwhelmingly positive.

Merlin is on track to meet its target of 25% women in senior positions within the next few years and looking forward aims to eventually achieve its ultimate goal of 50% gender balance in the leadership team.  

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