Female domination in the boardroom at WST Travel, a Blackpool based specialist school and college travel company, is bucking the UK trend for sexual inequality at board level whilst delivering phenomenal success for the firm.
Overseeing a soaring turnover growth running at 100% year on year, the board at WST has an uncommon 60% female majority. This stands in stark contrast to research by analysts, BoardEx, showing that of Britain’s top 100 private companies, only 64 publish the composition of their boards and of those, 73% have all-male teams of executive directors.
WST Travel was established in December 2010, and organises over 15,000 educational visits per year to London, Continental Europe and the US. Recently awarded the Investors in People standard, the firm has rapidly expanded its team by choosing employees with the highest levels of specialist travel experience. As a result, the 23 strong workforce has over 300 years’ combined industry experience.
The absence of a ‘glass ceiling’ at the firm has recently been demonstrated by the promotion of Sian Belfield to the board of WST Travel as Customer Relations Director. Sian has been with the company since set-up and instrumental in helping to build the client-focussed approach that has fuelled growth. In the specialist travel industry for over 20 years, Sian has previously worked for Shearings and headed a team of over 100 employees at NST.
Says WST Managing Director, Deborah Beckett: “Our rapid success in the marketplace is wholly down to our team and their unrivalled experience. The travel sector does attract a large proportion of women employees; however a female majority at executive level is rare, even in this industry.”
“We’re extremely proud of our success and our commitment to offering customers the best talent and experience available. Sian’s contribution to building long term relationships with schools has played an essential part in WST’s success and her presence on the board will help to ensure that we continue to strengthen our foothold in the market.”
Fiona Hathorn, Managing Director of Women on Boards UK commented: “It is great to observe the success of WST and to see a company that is truly gender diverse at the executive level. Currently too much of the UK’s female talent is wasted by companies who either do not promote women early enough or who will not allow them back after a career break. Women can be as driven as men if they are given the opportunity.”
“Seeing this business grow made me think of Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund who challenged the world leaders at Davos only a few weeks ago to focus on the power of what she termed ‘inclusive growth’.”
She then went on to say “the evidence is clear, as is the message: when women do better, economies do better. For me, WST’s success in business is an example of what she means. Well done Deborah, Sian and the team.”
The board of WST comprises: David Craven (Chairman) who has over 30 years experience in educational travel with over 20 of those years as MD of NST, one of the UK’s leading educational travel companies. Deborah Beckett (Managing Director) who has over 20 years travel experience including operating at Director level with a major travel PLC. Dave Finch (Finance Director), Sian Belfield (Customer Relations Director) and Sarah Foden (Non Executive Director) who each have over 15 years experience in educational travel.
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