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Women in the Hospitality Industry Battling Gender Inequality

By Grace Beck, student writer

Women in the hospitality industry have been battling gender inequality roadblocks when it comes to getting promoted and advancing in their careers.

Broad College of Business alumna Peggy Berg (BA Hospitality Business ’78), director of the Castell Project, created the Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership 2017 report to provide statistics tracking how women are progressing in the hospitality industry and to encourage involvement.

Statistics from the report suggest that departments that have been less than successful at promoting women into leadership positions are also unsuccessful at recruiting women.

Chart 1: Odds of a Woman Getting the Promotion in the Hospitality Industry. 1 woman for every 2 men is promoted to VP/district director. 1 woman for every 3 men is promoted to 'Senior' VP/mgr/dir. 1 woman for every 4 men is promoted to EVP/group president. 1 woman for every 5.5 men is promoted to a 'chief' position (COO, CMO, CDO, etc.). 1 woman for every 10 men is promoted to president/principal/partner. 1 woman for every 19.5 men is promoted to CEO. Sources: The Castell Project, Analysis of the STR Directory of Hotel and Lodging Companies, 2014. Pull quote: ...men have been 10 times more likely to be promoted to the principal/partner or president levels than women...Key Statistics from the Report

  • In the hospitality industry (as of 2016), men are ten times more likely to be promoted to the principal/partner or president levels than women.
  • The hospitality industry has been less successful at developing its women than the firms of the S&P 500 and the S&P 500 Finance.
  • Only 21 percent of attendees on pre-conference rosters for hospitality-related events regarding investment and asset values were women in 2016–17.
  • One in eight men who were on these pre-conference rosters spoke, compared to one in 12 women.
  • 84 percent of men and 70 percent of women agreed that “women entering hospitality companies today will have more opportunities for upward movement into top executive positions than have past generations.”

Peggy Berg
Peggy Berg [photo credit: Paige McFall]
In contrast to the lack of representation in higher-level positions is the high importance of women to the hospitality industry. Women in the industry make a majority of the purchasing decisions, which in turn drive demand.

Hotel companies are beginning to address gender inequality issues, leading to recognition on the latest Fortune list of 100 Best Workplaces for Women for:

  • Marriott International
  • Hilton
  • Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
  • Hyatt
  • Concord Hospitality Enterprises

“Some companies are doing a good job (creating more diversity in the industry); the industry is making gains. Castell aims to help the industry accelerate its improvement,” stated Berg.

According to the report, despite Americans’ support of gender equality in leadership roles, Americans are unaware of the forces holding women back in the workplace. The Castell Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, aims to battle these forces, providing leadership training for women and giving hospitality companies the tools to accelerate development of their high-potential women.


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