The travel and leisure sector has been male-dominated for a long time, with women left to play peripheral roles. Statistics of women in leadership confirm this situation. According to the Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020 Report, just 25% of leadership roles in the hospitality industry are held by women. The same study found that women occupy just 28% of hotel board committees, with the number dropping to 20% after excluding HR roles.
The asymmetry above is further amplified by the fact that women comprise 55.5% of hotel sector workforce, this according to Women in Hospitality 2017 report. While there have been some remarkable strides made, the pandemic seems to have rolled back some of these gains. Like their male counterparts, women lost or left tourism and hospitality jobs during the pandemic. However, women were slower to return, owing to childcare and homeschooling duties.
In the post-pandemic era, hospitality players are once again coming face to face with the reality of gender disparity. The social, political and business dynamics are forcing hospitality employers to move beyond tokenism to give women their rightful place at the table. In response, some hotel chains and brands have embarked on campaigns to give equal opportunities to women inside their organisations.
If you are looking to better accommodate the women in your hotel business, this article is for you. It covers key challenges women in hospitality face, and the benefits of having women in leadership positions. This article concludes with a FREE 8-point guide for supporting and accommodating women in hospitality, which you can download and save for future reference.
Key Challenges for Women in Hospitality
Hospitality is not short of talented women capable of breaking the glass ceiling and excelling at the highest level. However, some obstacles stand in their way. These include:
- Work-life balance: Women in the hotel sector who are juggling demanding jobs and family responsibilities tend to face challenges due to the nature of hospitality work. It's not unusual for hospitality professionals to be required to physically be present at a hotel property early in the morning or late at night, which can be challenging for women with families. Women who are primary caregivers in their family experience more stress due to long unsociable hours, frequent travel or relocation obligations.
- Stereotypes and bias: Women who want to advance in their hospitality jobs face challenges such as bias, gender stereotypes, and a lack of female role models. Under-representation of female leaders and boardrooms tends to put women under more attention and pressure to perform well. Any mistakes or blips in these roles tend to be magnified, which further accentuates gender stereotypes. Women in the workplace can thus shy away from throwing their hat in the ring for consideration to higher responsibilities.
Hosco and Lobster Ink have teamed up to empower current and future hospitality professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to operate to the highest standards. With a suite of more than 200 hospitality training courses covering every core area of hospitality, your employees can now access learning on any device, at any time. Book a demo today and give your employees the flexibility they need to stay in the industry!
The Benefits of Women in Hospitality Leadership Positions
Having more women at the apex of the hotel industry is not a zero-sum game; it has real, quantifiable benefits. According to a 2020 DEI study by McKinsey, businesses with more than 30 percent women representation at the top are likely to outperform those with fewer or no women representation. The McKinsey report asserts that an inclusive culture has the following benefits:
- Wins the war for talent
- Strengthens customer orientation
- Increases employee satisfaction
- Improves decision-making
- Enhances an organisation’s image
Women are also more effective leaders during a crisis, according to research by the Harvard Business Review. Maintaining staff motivation to reach their full potential is one of the major problems that hospitality leaders face. Effective leaders help their team members solve problems, think creatively, and make their own judgments. Employee turnover, poor performance, and customer dissatisfaction are just a few of the effects of poor leadership. Having more women leading the travel and hotel sector can enable the industry to surmount some of these challenges.
Besides being more effective leaders, women also bring a fresh perspective to the workplace, and are more transformational in their approach. By modelling effective conversation management, female leaders may foster creativity by ensuring that all perspectives are challenged, and all voices are heard.
How Can You Support and Accommodate Women in Your Hotel Business?
Making women feel like valued stakeholders in hospitality requires deliberate efforts and strategies. We at Hosco have developed an 8-point guide to help you nurture and support women in your hotel business. Our guide illustrates how mentorship can help you groom the next generation of women leaders. It also highlights how promoting qualified women employees to leadership positions can have triple benefits.
Because of the dual-centric identity of women, they require unique benefits such as daycare facilities, well-being programs, working from home and other flexible work arrangements. Providing women-friendly benefits and a supportive work environment can enable women to take up leadership positions without the intention to leave their family ambitions behind or having to choose between the two. Even your choice of language can help you strike a chord with the women active in the job market, and those already inside the organisation.
8-Step Guide to Supporting and Accommodating Women in Hospitality
Ready to make the women in your hospitality business feel included, supported and encouraged? Here are the first 4 steps of the guide:
1. Provide Mentorship to Aspiring Women Leaders
If you want more women to take up higher responsibilities in your hotel, consider running mentorship programs for aspiring women leaders. Encourage all genders to seriously take up mentorship roles, so they can groom the women in the business for future responsibilities in the industry. Involve young women in important conversations where you can identify key talent and tap their ideas. As mentorship takes root in your hotel and more women rise to the top, there is likely to be a ripple effect on women even at lower levels. To make mentorship a key aspect of your business, you can make it part of the performance appraisal. Review this metric regularly to identify the key success factors, which can then be replicated more broadly.
2. Promote from Within Whenever Possible
When there are open leadership positions within the organisation, think internally first. Assess the capacity of women already working with you in terms of their work experience, leadership skills, and dependability. Promoting from within makes your employer brand more attractive to women, hence widening the talent pool available to you. Internal promotion also positively impacts your female employees; that their efforts are getting noticed and rewarded. Lastly, promoting women from within has a trickle-down effect by creating new allies whom young women professionals can look up to for inspiration and guidance.
3. Provide Women-Centred Benefits
Women in hospitality who shoulder family responsibilities may shy away from taking higher leadership roles. You can support women by creating bespoke, female-friendly benefits. These include extended parental leave, eliminating the gender pay gap through equal pay, health insurance for their families etc. Consider providing childcare facilities in your hotel where women coming back from maternity leave can return to work, and be close to their bundles of joy. You may not need separate daycare facilities for your employees: your female employees could use childcare facilities meant for hotel guests in order to be cost-effective. Flexibility is a big concern for women in hospitality. Whenever possible, allow flexible rosters to allow women to achieve their life goals.
4. Foster a Supportive Work Environment
Focus on creating a work environment that is supportive of young women in the workplace. In this regard, having supportive supervisors can be particularly handy because they are the gatekeepers of inclusive workplaces. Encourage, train and ensure that your supervisors are providing the requisite level of support to the women working under them. Create policies that make it easier for supervisors to make women-friendly decisions in their day-to-day work. A good policy can remove unpredictability and foster uniformity of a supervisor’s decisions. Gender training can also go a long way in tackling inherent biases and creating a cadre of empathetic managers.
We hope that this guide comes in handy for encouraging women in your workplace, and helps you become an employer of choice.
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