Women in Hospitality: Paving the Road for Gender Equality and Inclusion

06.03.2024 Author: Katherine Wyles

The hospitality industry is a vibrant and fundamental player in the global economy. Yet, despite its worldwide reach and potential for career growth, there persists an undeniable disparity in gender representation, particularly in leadership roles and pay equity.  

With technological advancements reshaping the way we work, we have an opportunity to make advancements in all areas, particularly in championing the cause of women in hospitality.  

Gender Equality – The Current State of Play
Celebrating women in hospitality is not merely a gesture of recognition but a crucial step toward achieving gender equality.  

A PWC report in 2020 revealed that among the lowest-paid 25% of positions across the hospitality, travel and leisure sector, 54% are held by women and of the highest-paid 25% of positions, 58% are held by men.  

This illustrates both the gender wage gap and the underrepresentation of women in the upper levels of the sector. 

The PWC report indicates that if the current rate of progress on closing the gender pay gap continues, it could take another two decades to achieve parity. This slow pace is unacceptable, risking the loss of invaluable talent and hindering performance.  

The gender pay gap in hospitality has widened, with the majority of board positions, which influence average pay, being held by men, despite women constituting 70% of the workforce. This imbalance is further exacerbated by high employee turnover and the prevalence of insecure, seasonal work, often occupied by women to fit around caring-at-home responsibilities. 

In 2022, women earned 17% less than men on average, a gap that is partly attributed to traditional patterns of women leaving the workforce during childbearing years, which affects continuity and contributes to lower wages.  

Despite efforts for equal pay, women lag in nearly every occupational category, with only 8.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs being female.  

Our Commitment to Gender Equality
At Hospitality People Group, we recognise that bridging this gap is not solely about promotion and remuneration but about fostering a supportive workplace culture where everyone can be empowered to realise their potential.  

This could entail providing flexible working options given the acceleration of technology and the increased ability to be connected while working remotely. This could be particularly hekplful to women as they return from parental leave or are navigating different life stages such as the menopause.  

By identifying and attracting the best talent and advocating for a diverse workforce, we can ensure that clients benefit from a wide array of perspectives, enriching the hospitality experience for all. 

We are committed to supporting women as they navigate the challenges of returning from maternity leave or caring for family members, while also aiding in rebuilding confidence and advocating for equitable practices among our clients. 

Andrea, Mara, and Tairona are all Founding Members of the “Inspiring Women in Hospitality” community, a platform that reflects a commitment to nurturing gender diversity and inclusion within the industry. Initially founded as podcast by Naureen Ahmed, the community has evolved and the Inspiring Community was launch in September last year.  

Naureen Ahmed joined us for a Success Story  during the month of International Women’s Day in March to share her insights on empowering women in hospitality. 

We are also proud sponsors of Boutique Hoteliers’ Women in Hotels brunch, taking place on International Women’s Day at art’otel London Battersea Power Station. 

How can Women in Hospitality be further supported?
Taking inspiration from the Inspiring Community we have summarised some of their key actionable recommendations below. 

  •  Fostering a Diverse Community 

To effectively confront gender bias, the hospitality industry must encourage the formation of communities that unite women from varied cultures, backgrounds, experiences, and age groups. This diversity can become a powerful force for change, as it brings a multitude of perspectives and solutions to the table, fostering a more inclusive atmosphere. 

  • Promotion of Gender Equality 

The industry should facilitate collaborations with women who are passionately working towards gender equality. Businesses can then help ensure that these discussions influence policy and practice at every level of operation. 

  • Professional Development Platforms 

Access to professional development platforms is crucial. The industry should provide spaces where women can enhance their skills and broaden their professional network. These platforms can serve as springboards for career advancement and personal growth, helping to break down the barriers that women face in the hospitality sector. 

  • Mentorship Opportunities

Mentorship is a key strategy for personal and professional development. The industry should encourage women to engage in mentorship roles within their peer groups, offering guidance, support, and encouragement to one another. This peer-to-peer mentorship can be a powerful catalyst for individual and collective progress. 

  •  Structured Career Discussions

Finally, structured career discussions, perhaps facilitated by industry specialists can provide direction and clarity for women forging their paths in hospitality. These sessions can help women identify career milestones and strategise on how to reach them, while also advocating for systemic changes that can pave the way for future generations of women in hospitality. 

Specialists in People Strategy
As specialists in people strategy, we recognise the importance of a diverse talent pool, and the impact of a workplace culture that supports it.  

This variety of perspectives, encompassing all genders and levels of seniority, is crucial for innovation and staying ahead in a competitive market.  

Offering flexible working arrangements and encouraging the option of shared parental leave could be game-changing ways to mitigate disparities, supporting women’s career continuity and contributing to a fairer and more inclusive workplace. 

The path to equality in hospitality is not easy, and it requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders. Celebrating women’s achievements, creating supportive workplace cultures, and leveraging technological advances for flexible work options could be key steps in the right direction.  

If you’d like to discuss how we support all people in the hospitality industry then please get in touch on +44 20 8600 1166 or via the below details.  

 Dan Akhtar, Managing Director – HPG Advisory Services
+44 208 600 1166 / +44 7808 157796

Chris Denison Smith, Managing Director – FM Recruitment
+44 20 8600 1160 / +44 7775 711923

Guy Lean, Managing Director – Madison Mayfair
+44 20 8 600 1180 / +44 7813 009787

Andrea Shaw, Director – FM Recruitment
+44 20 8 600 1160 / +44 7714 236469