Mike Gamble, CEO of SearchWide Global and Founder and CEO at Tourism Diversity Matters

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“The goal is not intended to replace existing good work but rather shine a light on it and add value”

ES. Please tell us about the idea of TDM and how it all began? Please share with us your professional journey since inception.

Mike Gamble. I have often thought, “wouldn’t it be great to have an organization focused on DE&I for the greater industry 24/7/365”. If there is anything that we can all agree on and collaborate on, it should be this. Especially now.

  • When deciding on who best to lead the effort, picking Elliott as chair was easy and he was a natural choice. A well respected leader in our industry with a passion for DE&I.
  • Having Greg DeShields run the organization as Executive Director was another easy choice. A highly respected industry leader and DE&I expert who is a Certified Diversity Executive.
  • When it came time to recruit the inaugural board, it became very clear to me that there was a need for this. The commitments were swift and the passion contagious, and what a board it is. This is a board comprised of leaders from all sectors of our industry and Diversity experts from outside of our industry. Including higher education institutions.
  • None of this could have happened without our founding partners. PHLCVB, ConferenceDirect Foundation and SearchWide Global stepped up immediately and we will be looking to grow our partners throughout this year
  • Lastly, we have an amazing internal team who embraced this vision and made it happen

ES. What are some main pillars of activity to benefit the Tourism Industry?
Mike Gamble. Our 4 pillars are Workforce Development, DE&I, Research and Data and our Apprenticeship program. Let me speak about our Apprenticeship program. This is a program designed to provide hands-on working experience to ethnically diverse Apprentices interested in pursuing a career in the tourism and hospitality industry. Potential Apprentices will receive an opportunity to choose a tourism, hospitality, events, venue or sports career path that aligns with their professional career goals. The Tourism Apprentice Career Track (TACT) is comprised of three distinctive tracks: a Destination Track, a Sports Track, and a Meetings & Events Track.

The Apprentice will complete a total of 600 working hours (not to exceed six months) among all three partners and during this time they will gain experience working across multiple departments (i.e., marketing, sales, finance, operations, etc.) They will also gain exposure to other local stakeholders and community partners such as the Airport, Government Agencies, Meeting and Event Organizations, Restaurants and Attractions etc. Upon successful completion of the program, a full-time position will be secured.

ES. How does TDM’s goal help to sustain and expand, fellow industry partners, research institutions, and creates solutions to organizational success?

Mike Gamble. This is a collective impact approach. Not intended to replace existing good work but rather shine a light on it and add value. We will be immediately collaborating with many industry organizations in order to make a difference together. We have already started to share some of the great research currently being done in the industry. Our intent is to absolutely produce our own research but this will take some time as we are only in our 4th month of operation. We launched TDM during the pandemic and the universal industry support has been overwhelming.

ES. What would be a piece of idea that you would like to share with the industry?

Mike Gamble. As you rebuild your organizations, please remember to keep DE&I at the center of your strategic plan and organizational chart, not as a footnote or pillar.