With plenty of women going through hospitality school, yet far fewer women than men in the upper echelons of hospitality management, a panel discussion at the GM Leaders Conference 2016, between, Maria Tullberg, general manager, Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek, Marianne Saulwick, director of industry liaison, Emirates Academy of Hospitality and Vivien Ivanyi marketing and business development consultant, explored what else the industry could do to support its female workforce.
Saulwick said: “There is lots of historical challenges we have to overcome in the industry, and women in general aren’t great advocates of themselves, we tend to make ourselves smaller and don’t give eachother enough credit for the hard work we do. For example, when you consider how women are seen in a boardroom compared to men, we can often be percived as these delicate flowers, which isn’t the case.”
Ivanyi added: “There is plenty of change happening in the industry, and it is only going to get better and better for women. At the start of the year we saw the first Global Woman’s forum in Dubai, representing the whole of the MENA region. This event brought together over 500 women from different walks of life, all at different career levels into one room to discuss change. The fact that this happened in here is momentus progress. Women are becoming better ambassadors for their careers.”
Commenting on Reziodor’s commitment to female leaders, Tullberg said: “The Rezidor Hotel Group has set a target to achieve 30% Women in Leadership (WiL) by the end of 2016 and the WiL initiative is based on these guiding principles supported by our CEO Wolfgang Neumann: Challenging existing thinking and increasing representation of women in senior positions across the entire company. Breaking down barriers that prevent women across Rezidor from having open conversations about their careers and encouraging them to consider flexible approaches towards their working conditions. Harnessing individual strengths of our female leaders and we actively encourage their collective participation at every level of our business.”
And touching upon wether women really can have both a worklife, career balance Saulwick said: “Women face similar challenges when it comes to their careers across all industries and all countries. There are certain preconceptions from society when it comes to women trying to establish a worklife balance for example, and this can be discouraging. Eventually, this is a challenge mostly highlighted in the hospitality industry, which is demanding with its long working hours and many evening events.
Further highlighting the gender imbalance in the industry, Tullberg added: “Rezidor recently held a survey to find out more about the gap in education and employement for females, and we found that approximately 60% of people attending hospitality schools were women, yet only 16% of general managers are females in this region.”