Every time Peggy Berg, founder of the Highland Group, attends a hotel industry investment conference, she hopes to see more female faces in the crowd. But unfortunately, she hasn’t noticed significant improvement. According to data pulled from the 2016 ALIS and Hunter conferences, less than 20 percent of total attendees were women and only 7 percent of female attendees were speakers. “Even among the attendees, women are not getting a place at the table,” Berg says.
Women are the majority of hospitality school graduates and a majority of the industry’s workforce, but they remain significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. “There are models out there for how to shift the paradigm, and it’s time for our industry to step up and do it,” Berg says. With the support of Dr. Debby Cannon, director of the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration at Georgia State, and HVMG’s Mary Beth Cutshall, Berg plans to form an advocacy group that would provide leadership and career advancement training for women in hospitality.
The advocacy group would establish a two-day training program for cohorts of 25 women who have demonstrated leadership potential. After completing the program, participants would come away with new relationships and a supportive network for career development and leadership advancement. Berg would like to see the first cohort complete the program in 2017. “I believe we can fairly quickly change the profile of women in this industry by making them much more visible,” Berg says. “And as they become more visible, they’ll become more promotable.”