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.
By Helen Gilbert