Women leaving hospitality costs industry £3bn, finds report

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Management, Director

The macho culture in hospitality is a key barrier to women's career development
The macho culture in hospitality is a key barrier to women's career development
Every year, over 300,000 female workers leave the hospitality industry, a turnover that comes at a cost of almost £3bn to businesses, according to a new report

Every year, over 300,000 female workers leave the hospitality industry, a turnover that comes at a cost of almost £3bn to businesses, according to a new report.

Released yesterday by the hospitality skills council People 1st, the report also presented research findings that show how a company’s business performance increases when women form part of the senior management team.

“Employers in the industry are losing a valuable resource when talented women are unable to achieve their career ambitions,” said Martin-Christian Kent, director of policy and research at People 1st.

“If we are able to develop and retain more women in the industry, it would help ensure that we have the number of skilled managers we need for the future,” he said at the launch of the group’s awards for women in the hospitality industry.

The Top 100 Most Influential Women in hospitality awards​ – set up the council’s development programme, Women 1st​ – aim to recognise women for their achievements in the hospitality sector.  Yesterday’s launch involved a call for nominations, which can be submitted via the People 1st website.

Barriers to the top

According to findings in the new report (‘Women 1st – the case for change: Women working in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism’) the sector loses £2.8bn per year in replacement recruitment and initial training directly as a result of 310,000 women leaving the industry.  This compares to 224,500 men who leave the industry every year.

Although the sector continues to grow – with an additional 290,000 managers expected to be recruited over the next seven years – the percentage of female workers has been declining over the past six years, from 61 per cent in 2004/5 to 56 per cent in 2010.

Out of those, only 18 percent are employed in management or senior positions, compared to 25 per cent of men.

The report highlights the key barriers that prevent women from advancing to senior management roles in the sector.  These are:

• The difficulty of combining work with caring responsibilities
• A dominant macho culture
• Preconceptions and gender bias
• A lack of networking
• A lack of visible women in senior positions

Business benefits of women

Women 1st also highlights research findings from various sources, which demonstrate a link between women’s representation in senior management and business performance indicators – such as financial performance and shareholder value.

For example, a Leeds University Business School study found that having at least one female director on the board cuts a company’s chances of going bust by about 20 per cent. 

In addition, research by the New York-based group Catalyst found that the Fortune 500 companies with three or more women on the board showed a 73 per cent higher return on sales, an 83 per cent higher return on equity and a 112 per cent higher return on invested capital than those with the fewest female board members.

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