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Community / Corporate Social Responsibility / Employment / 29 January 2018

Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020

Last year I was asked to provide a quote for a report being carried out by PWC and Korn Ferry looking at diversity and in particular women who work in our sector. I commented that whilst 53% of those who work in pubs are women and companies like Fullers have a female head brewer, we need to build on our successes if we are to see more women reach the top.

Last week I attended the launch of the report; a link can be found here and it provides for some fascinating reading and an opportunity to sign up to the ‘Diversity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure Charter’ to help companies make a real contribution to this agenda.

The report acknowledges that much progress has been made, but with an aim of achieving 33 percent female representation across boards and executive committees by 2020 there is much to do. There are very few female role models in CEOs and Chairman across the sector. There is a greater representation of women in HR, rather than commercial and finance and some small to medium sized businesses do not think there is an issue with gender imbalance, nor regard it as a priority. The sector attracts a high number of female graduates, but is not doing enough to retain them and this is partly because of a lack of flexibility in working conditions and support for women balancing careers and families who then need to be encouraged to come back into the business. Appointments from outside the sector have helped increase the pipeline, but few companies in the sector disclose their diversity and inclusion strategies. Recent McKinsey research has shown that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

Companies like Sodexo who do have strategies, found from research across their 5,000 managers that the strategy increased employee engagement, improves favourable client opinion and that sites with gender-balanced management were 23% more likely to show consistent organic growth. A customer director for Wagamama is quoted as saying that she works for a new female CEO who insists on collaboration and communication amongst them and designs meetings and away-days that facilitate this. The result is a strong feeling of the team, but it also makes it easier to have difficult conversations. There are suggestions that women need to be more proactive in seeking out promotion and often lack confidence and there is clear recognition that it all starts from the top and the right attitude must permeate throughout the business.

The report concludes that there are many places to start this journey, but that the most important is a vision and sense of urgency from leadership. Other sectors are agreeing formal strategies and policy and broadening public awareness about their strategy. It emerges that female graduates first priority in choosing who to work for are opportunities for career progression. There is much more besides from the value of mentoring to the power of networks. Definitely worth a read and perhaps some more thought…..

Written by

Brigid Simmonds

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