In an age where diversity rules, change is a constant and more women are working than ever before, why is it still rare to see women leading hospitality firms or hotels? (see story on p. 10)
In fact, when covering industry events and conferences it astounds me to survey the landscape and continue to see only a handful of women. In Toronto, for example, there is only a sprinkling of females leading hotels as GMs, and when you look at the top 50 hotels, there are even fewer represented in C-Suites and on corporate Boards.
In this day and age, the painfully slow progress on this front is unacceptable. Several hotel companies have been successful in moving the dial, but sadly, there’s just not enough of them. Perhaps women are not actively seeking out executive roles. And, if that’s the case, has anyone tried to figure out why or what can be done to remedy this? As Katie Taylor, chair of RBC’s Board, and former president and CEO of Four Seasons, told me recently, “When you continue to do the same things over and over again and nothing changes, then it’s time to say, ‘Oh well, what else can we do,’ and drive a different reality.” (see Q&A on p. 15)
But, statistics show more women are entering the hospitality industry than ever before. They’re graduating from management programs, and they’re entering the industry in equal numbers to their male counterparts, but they don’t graduate into the upper echelon.
Sure a handful might break through the glass ceiling, but they’re the exception and not the rule. The reality is many women land in sales, public relations or human resources. There’s nothing wrong with that, but shouldn’t those positions also be stepping stones to higher growth, and shouldn’t women in those departments be recognized and offered the same opportunities to grow as men?
At a time when more females are graduating from the nation’s law schools, more women doctors are practising medicine than ever before, and an increasing number of women helm several male-centric industries such as tech, finance and automotive (IBM, Yahoo, Facebook, Hewlett Packard and General Motors all have female leaders), why is the hospitality industry not equally hospitable to women? Isn’t it time to dispense with the antiqua
ted excuses of what’s truly holding women back, and accept that women are talented enough, smart enough and capable enough to juggle work and family?
As with solving any problem, the first step is recognizing there’s a problem. Beyond that, it’s time for hospitality leaders to fully engage and commit to this dialogue. They need to remove the barriers that exist and stop paying lip service to this issue. Anything less is a disservice to women.
Volume 27, Number 2