Hospitality failing to embrace ethnic diversity at the top

15 November 2007 by
Hospitality failing to embrace ethnic diversity at the top

Career progression for ethnic minorities in the hospitality industry is limited, with few making it beyond grassroots levels, research to be published next month will reveal.

A comprehensive study, based on interviews with 25 chief executives/managing directors and two HR directors, working in contract catering, hotel, restaurant, facilities management and retail catering operations, found that ethnic minorities were represented at board level in only 2% of companies.

The Ethnic Diversity in the Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism Industry report, by recruitment and HR consultancy Chess Executive, also found that only 6% of ethnic minorities worked at middle or senior management level, compared with 50% who worked at unit level.

More than 80% of respondents felt that all employees had an equal opportunity to progress within their business, but when questioned further about black, Asian or eastern European groups, 70% named at least one potential barrier. These included language and communication issues differences in the quality of UK and non-UK education and the effect of religious beliefs on an ability to deliver services.

All respondents had some form of equal opportunity or anti-discrimination policy in place, but 13% believed that they did not necessarily translate. Comments included: "People pay lip service to it, but policies can't always change behaviours," and "Having a policy isn't enough you need to educate and train people to understand different cultures and create better working relationships."

Report author Jennifer Miller said: "I was not surprised by the low numbers of people from ethnic minority groups in board-level positions, as this was the issue that originally prompted us to look into the question. What was surprising, however, was the general lack of career progression, particularly into middle-management positions, in an industry with such a diverse employment base."

Only two of the 100 HR directors contacted for the survey could answer the full questionnaire. Chris Sheppardson, managing director of Chess, said: "The key question we are asking is whether it is reasonable to expect a greater proportion of HR departments to have these figures easily available?"

The full results will be revealed in Chess Executive's En Passant publication in December.

Read more on immigration here >>

Migrant workers are more reliable and better skilled, says research >>

Migrant staff not here for life, warns expert >>

By Helen Gilbert

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