Among the world’s largest 500 companies, only 10.9 percent of senior executives are women, according to Weber Schandwick’s Gender Forward Pioneer Index.

In order to tackle this, UKHospitality, executive search firm Odgers Berndtson, BT Sport and sector agency Elliotts have launched The Leadership Mentoring Programme to fast-track female leaders in the sector.

With the goal to provide mentoring, advice and motivation, it is the first industry-wide mentoring initiative to help female managers in hospitality and leisure break through to senior executive and board-level roles.

The announcement comes a month after Propel launched the first sector conference to feature an all-female line-up. The Women’s Entrepreneur Conference, in partnership with Elliotts saw a total of 11 company founders share their stories, tips and advice to inspire more women to set up their own business.

Holly Addison, head of hospitality and leisure at Odgers Berndtson and a member of the initiative’s steering committee, added: “We want more women to believe in themselves and their ability to contribute at the most senior levels to the success of their organisations.”

Despite more than four fifths (82%) of respondents agreeing there should be more women on leadership teams in the sector, and two-thirds (65%) believing it important to have a mentoring scheme in place, fewer than half (48%) had plans to implement one. According to the study, published by UKHospitality and CGA earlier this year 71% of participants said a sector-wide initiative would help.

Chief executive of UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls said: “The vision behind this is to give talented women the empowerment and support they need to achieve leadership roles. We also want to build a network of senior mentors from across the hospitality industry to support the next generation of inclusive leaders.”

In May this year, The Peterson Institute for International Economics completed a survey of 21,980 firms from 91 countries and found that having women at the C-Suite level significantly increases net margins. Therefore, it is critical, not just for the hospitality industry but for all businesses to invest in a more balanced workforce.