"More of a trickle than a torrent": the hospitality sector failing to get senior female executives into top roles

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

"More of a trickle than a torrent": hospitality sector failing to get senior female executives into top leadership roles

Related tags: Hotel

Hospitality businesses are being urged to sign a charter supporting women in the industry, following findings that the sector is lagging behind in gender diversity.

Progress on gender diversity in pub and restaurant businesses has trailed behind other companies in hospitality, travel and leisure, according to a review of gender diversity and female progression by PwC.

The number of female senior executives stood at 27.2% within casual dining; 25% in pub companies; and 21.7% within foodservice, compared to the average of 25.5% across the hotel, travel and leisure sectors.

According to the Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020 report, representation of women in hospitality, travel and leisure industries falls to 20% when HR roles are discounted.

Travel companies performed the best with 29.5% of female senior executives.

The report found that while well represented in junior and middle management roles there is a significant lack of women in the top commercial leadership roles in these industries

Issues highlighted in the report to tackle the gender gap in hospitality include inflexible working hours; inadequate support following career breaks that prevents women taking senior roles in the industry; and a perception of a ‘blokey’ or ‘laddish’ culture that hinders the sector’s attempts to attract top talent. The hospitality sector was also found to not be doing enough to retain the top female graduates it attracts.

The report also found that many female executive committee members work in HR rather than commercial or finance areas, giving a false view of the sector’s progression on gender diversity.

“The single biggest issue and the one that needs our greatest attention is that of the pipeline of female executives,” says Alison Brittain, Whitbread PLC CEO.

“Sadly, this is more a trickle than a torrent. Without a healthy flow, there is no hope of getting more senior female executives onto the boards and executive teams of British businesses."

The Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020 Review was carried out in order to “shine a spotlight” on the hospitality sector’s progress in meeting the challenge set by the 2016 government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review.

For more detailed analysis on gender diversity in the hospitality industry, read this story​ on BigHospitality's sister title MCA.

Related topics: Trends & Reports

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