Hospitality skills council People 1st has launched a development programme which aims to double the number of women in board level executive positions in hospitality and leisure companies by 2015.
The Women 1st initiative, officially launched in London yesterday, was set up after research from the One and All Foundation found that while 59 per cent of workers in the hospitality industry are women, only 6 per cent of hospitality company directors are female.
Lawyer and keynote speaker Cherie Blair was at the event at the Lanesborough hotel yesterday to highlight the aims of the initiative, already being supported by Whitbread, Sodexo and McDonald's, to an audience of 100 people. She said it will focus on two areas - continuous professional development and a programme of mentor/mentee support.
Women 1st's remit is to bring together employers, women managers and entrepreneurs to provide examples of how to overcome existing barriers; give support to the sector's brightest female junior managers to fulfil their potential with training and recognise the achievements of up and coming female industry leaders through the Shine Awards.
Sharon Glancy, business solutions director at People 1st, said: "A number of research studies have shown that those organisations with significant numbers of women in their senior teams do better on a number of performance measures, including innovation, good governance and financial results, relative to their industry competitors."
According to research by People 1st, female-dominated roles are usually front of house, such as waiting staff, bar staff and catering assistants and 55 per cent of women work part-time in the industry compared to 33 per cent of men.
It also found that the proportion of female women managers in the hospitality industry fell from 49 percent in 2004/5 to 46 percent in 2007/08.