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Maximising your Social Capital

Believe in Yourself

On 27 March we were delighted to welcome Synden Grieve, Process Solutions Programme Manager at the Expedia Group, to our first WIT event of 2023.  During the evening, Synden presented research and insights she’d gained from her recent MBA studies, which considered the importance of networking and social capital.

For many, the idea of social capital is new, but for women it is an extremely important concept and one which can support you in your future career ambitions and goals.  Sappleton defines social capital as ‘Sociability, social networks, cooperation, interpersonal trust and connectedness’ (Sappleton, 2009).  This can be considered how you work with others, how you create trust between peers and colleagues and how you establish a cooperative environment; or in other words, your ‘tribe’ who have similar views, thoughts and attributes.

Synden shared some fantastic insights, the good and the bad!  At the height of the pandemic it was calculated that instead of 100 years needed to reach gender equality, data shows that this estimate has now been broadened by 32 years.  With so many challenges facing many sectors, particularly tourism, how do we continue to advocate for greater gender parity while also recognising the significant amount of work required to drive recovery for the industry?

We should consider perhaps that it’s not one thing over another; rather – how can we use our networks and structure them to drive deeper connections, build relationships and network and work collaboratively to achieve both personal and professional goals?

When we consider the idea of social capital; while women are more naturally aligned to networking, you doo need the time, energy and effort required to do this effectively.  Do peers look for something in return, or is there generosity there to just support you with an individual ask?

During the evening, Synden considered some of the (many) gendered challenges that women face.  Within tourism there continues to be a lack of female role models in senior leadership positions.  Research shows that men are less collaborative than women, and combined with those who are in leadership positions, it can create an unintentional hostile environment for those that don’t naturally ‘fit the mold’.

Are you fed up with the same faces in industry leadership groups, committees and Boards?  Have you seen one too many ‘golf days’ where leaders create all-male spaces which naturally discourage women to take part and benefit from the industry opportunity?  If so, can we, as empowered women, use our social capital to advocate for change?  Is the time is now?  Do you have the ambition, creativity and energy to work with us to drive real, meaningful change?

Synden shared a startling quote.


Ana Stewart & Mark Logan, Pathways

The tourism sector needs you.  It needs champions, connections, networks and voices who can build on their social capital to work together for shared goals.

We want to build on Synden’s research and presentation, and will be hosting a workshop which we hope you can join.  Individually and collectively we have strong voices and by working together lets really drive meaningful discussion to support women, at every stage of their career, in achieving their full potential.

View Synden’s full presentation here here.