Women Hospitality Leaders Still Face Barriers To Promotions, Report Finds

Gender equity

ATLANTA—Officials of Castell Project, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the careers of women professionals in the hospitality industry, today released the 2019 Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership report. Following the inaugural 2018 study, the report tracks gender parity data at various upper levels throughout the hospitality industry.

“While the discourse is improving since the previous Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership report, we have quite a way to go to achieve equitable opportunity for women in upper leadership,” said Peggy Berg, president, Castell Project, Inc. “For example, women are about half of director-level employees in hotel companies, but females make up only one in 22 CEOs and one in nine presidents. There clearly is a disconnect where highly competitive women are not being considered for promotion.”

Data-driven companies and broad international studies have shown that companies with gender-diverse leadership drive higher profits. A move from no female leaders to 30 percent representation is associated with a 15 percent increase in the net revenue margin, according to a study from The Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY that looked at nearly 22,000 global publicly traded companies.

Two key takeaways from the Castell Project report include:

Fewer Promotions for Women With Profit and Loss Responsibilities

Women are less likely to be promoted in fields that have profit and loss responsibilities. According to a study from life insurance company Allianz, 51 percent of women control the finances of their families, and women now control 51 percent of U.S. personal wealth. However, there is a gap where women are recognized as financial managers on a personal level, but not given the opportunity to take financial responsibilities at work.

Fewer Promotions for Women in Investment and Development

Women are less likely to be promoted in the fields of investment and development, where success is driven by negotiations. Yet women are promoted in the sales field, which also is driven by negotiations. There is a discrepancy where women are accepted as candidates for promotion in some fields where success is based on negotiations, but not in others.

“The first step we can take as an industry is to recognize that the issue exists,” Berg added. “Although many hospitality industry executives believe that their companies have solved the challenges of gender diversity, Castell Project statistics indicate that most have not. Something in the water does not compute where more than 90 percent of companies say they prioritize gender and racial diversity because it leads to better business results, but only 42 percent of employees think this is the case for gender diversity, according to a recent report by McKinsey. We challenge corporate leadership to build gender-diversity in their companies—it’s critical to a competitive bottom line.”


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