Male-dominated management is too single-minded, so ensure women are welcome, says Debrah Dhugga, managing director, Dukes Collection
Positive progress has been made to boost the number of women in managerial roles in the hospitality industry, but senior management of hotels across the world remains largely male dominated.
I believe a diverse boardroom in any industry generates a richness and quality of ideas that is lacking in an all-male environment and the hospitality sector is no exception.
Companies with a diverse senior team take their decisions from a wider viewpoint.
In a world where women are an increasingly powerful force, as consumers and business leaders, making sure their voices are heard at the top has never been more important.
The number of female travellers is on the rise, which is why I launched the Duchess Rooms at Dukes London, a discreet luxury service tailored to female guests travelling alone. This hugely successful initiative was the result of my personal experiences as a female business traveller and is an example of a diverse business understanding their guests’ needs. The number of women in hospitality managerial roles should be growing in line with the rise of female travellers.
I believe mixed-gender executive teams bring more energy, are more dynamic and are more successful, something I have championed while recruiting for the new Dukes Dubai, set to open in April. Working in the Middle East has heightened my appreciation of how being a woman in this male-dominated industry can be challenging, but positive steps are being taken to change this and I am passionate about being part of it.
There are fantastic prospects for women in the industry, but more could be done to attract good candidates and ensure women gain leadership roles. I try and do this by allowing a flexible working place that includes job sharing and flexible hours – allowing the prospect of smooth training and development for women in particular. I believe more organisations should be open to these ideas to support and enhance the role of women in hospitality at every level. It needs to work both ways, with drive, enthusiasm and passion from the individual, too.
I believe it is important to encourage more women to seek leadership roles within the industry and am dedicated to treating staff well and prioritising their needs. I mentor students under several programmes and encourage mentoring and support of female managers as a founder of the Leading Ladies of London networking club. I find that mentoring doesn’t just help female managers become more self-confident, it can also give them an outlet which may not be available in the workplace.
My advice to any women looking to get ahead in the industry would be to work on your confidence, take charge of your career and don’t worry about what others think of you, as long as you know what you are doing is right for the customer and the business.
I don’t change myself for other people. I have always had that confidence and I
try to instil that in every woman I meet. The most important thing about a career is that it lasts a lifetime. Hospitality is a lifestyle. It’s a beautiful industry, with long hours and it’s hard work, but it’s very rewarding.