Labour MP Margaret Hodge has urged women within the hospitality industry to put pressure on their employers to actively create female managers.
"I believe in setting quotas for women as I think this is the only way we are going to bring about real change," Hodge told the Women 1st Conference held at London Marriott Grosvenor Square hotel today.
"The Labour party now has women-only lists when it comes to selecting parliamentary candidates. Some people hate this but I think it is a transitional period we need to go through before we can step back from quotas.
"The quality of women who have come through these lists are strong, bright, passionate, able and full of commitment."
Hodge, who is currently making an impact on the subject of tax avoidance by global organisations in her role as the first female chair of the Public Accounts Committee, also told the audience that women should not worry that taking five or so years out of their careers should prevent them from climbing the career ladder.
"If you go back into the workplace at the age of 40 or 50, you can still achieve a great deal," she encouraged. Hodge, who is now 68, became an MP at the age of 50.
Hodge's call for more women quotas received some support from a group of industry leaders in a later panel discussion, in front of the audience of nearly 200, mainly women, delegates.
Andre McEachern, global director for people development of legal practice Norton Rose Fulbright, said that quotas are an evil necessity in order to get more women into top roles, while Rachelle Headland, managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi X London, said that rather than having strict quotas, companies should set themselves targets of promoting women all the way to the top.
However, Robin Rowland, chief executive of YO! Sushi, said that he hated quotas, but in his role as a board member of Marton's Pub Company and Caffe Nero he pledged to do what he could to effect change.
"Only one out of ten of the board members at Marston's and one out of five of the Caffe Nero board are women," he said. "I shall aim to do what I can to increase these numbers."
Women 1st is part of People 1st, the sector skills council for the hospitality, passenger transport travel and tourism industries.
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