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New report identifies barriers to growth for women in hospitality

There is a lack of women holding senior roles in the UK’s hospitality sector, according to a new report launched today.

The report, co-written by Jackie Moody-McNamara of BRILLIANT Women and John Higgins, research fellow at  GameShift Consultancy, was sponsored by UKHospitality, and highlights a lack of female leadership in the UK’s 3rd largest sector.

The report’s findings show that there is:

  • A lack of diversity in many workplaces
  • A relative shortage of women holding senior positions
  • A limited number of women feeding the promotional pipeline
  • Also, reason to be positive, with many “green shoots” visible across the sector

The report identifies seven barriers to success faced by women in the hospitality sector. These include a “boys’ club” mentality, the prevalence of stereotypes and a lack of meaningful action from employers.

The research also outlines seven critical areas in need of support, to boost the number of women in senior positions. The recommendations include tackling unintended bias, an emphasis on coaching and mentorship schemes, and promotion of “softer” leadership skills.

Co-author Jackie Moody-McNamara, BRILLIANT Women commented: “I was keen to hear the voices of all the people in our sector, share real life experiences and tell their stories about what gets in the way and what enables progression. This research has certainly achieved that, it’s identified progression is being made and much more could be achieved with a concerted effort.

“What we really need is the sector bodies and key influences to get behind this research, accept where we are and recognise accelerated improvements are required, so everyone can benefit: companies, employees, investors and customers. This is a watershed moment; our people are saying “ensure hospitality is fair and equitable for everyone and we’re ready to step up and grab it.”

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls added: “Hospitality has done some great work in recent years providing opportunities for women and shrinking the gender pay gap. There is, however, clearly much more we can be doing to get women into senior positions in the industry.

“This report shows that, despite some good work, there are clearly barriers to progression in the sector. We need to acknowledge there is an issue here and we need to act on it now. This report is a fantastic resource for ensuring better female representation at senior levels. UKHospitality will be using it as the basis for our work championing diversity amongst our membership and across the whole hospitality sector.”

Philippa Hardman, Co-Founder of GameShift said: “Companies can’t properly manage risk or genuinely re-invent the future without a rich diversity of talent in their teams at every level, particularly in the executive team. We threw our effort behind this research because we want to see women flourishing in their careers, and we want to see their companies being better for it. This is excellent research, and we want it to be read in every boardroom.”

A full copy of the report, How to Unlock Potential and Create a Talented Pipeline of Senior Women Leaders, can be downloaded here: