Staying on the subject of gender equality, how does the hospitality industry shape up at leadership level? At UKHospitality’s inaugural Conference in July, attendees were given a strong insight into the issue, which was, and rightly so, high on the event’s agenda.
In an excellent speech, Holly Addison, head of hospitality and consumer digital at recruitment business Odgers Berndtson, told hospitality leaders: “There is no excuse for all-male boards.”
While there are more women present on the boards of UK companies than ever before, there’s still progress to be made. According to the Hampton-Alexander Review (2018), 29% of FTSE100 board positions are occupied by women. However, to meet the 33% target set for FTSE350 companies in 2020, 40% of all board appointments in the next two years need to go to women – and that’s if the positions are available.
It’s not just the conglomerates that are in the spotlight for male gender bias. Addison said: “Far too many smaller businesses don’t have any women on boards. We need the support and commitment of more enlightened industry leaders.”
In new research undertaken by CGA, Odgers Berndtson and UKHospitality, Addison pointed out that nearly two-thirds of hospitality leaders believe there is an issue around diversity, but two-thirds don’t think it’s a problem within their own business.
It’s encouraging to see the majority of those surveyed (82%) believe there should be more women on leadership teams, but the research also suggests there is a lack of action upon their beliefs. Schemes to encourage the appointments of women at leadership level are not common, with only 28% of participants having one in place.
Jon Terry, who is global financial services people leader at PwC, said at the conference: “Your ability to understand your customer must start with your leadership team looking like your customers. People don’t want to work in an industry that doesn’t look like them.”
If you look to public sector organisations, such as police forces and fire services, they have put in place initiatives to diversify tomorrow’s leadership. Are these initiatives a work-in-progress? Yes. But the whole point is to better represent the communities they serve. In that respect, why should it be any different to customers in the private sector?