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Sector sees improvement on gender diversity

07 February 2019 by
Sector sees improvement on gender diversity

New analysis suggests the hospitality, travel and leisure sector has made positive progress in the past year to increase the number of women in senior positions.

According to a report undertaken by steering group Women in Hospitality 2020, improvements have been made, although there is still work to be done to meet the 33% target of female representation across boards and executive committees by 2020, set by the Hampton-Alexander review.

The report shows the percentage of women in board level positions at FTSE 100 hospitality, travel and leisure companies increased to 32%, up 3% from 29%, slightly better than the cross-sector average of 30%. There has also been improvement on the number of women holding executive committee and direct report positions (into the executive committee) in companies.

Among the companies included in the data were InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), where women occupy 36.4% of board positions; Whitbread, where women hold 44.4% of positions; and Just Eat, which lagged behind with women holding 22.2% of board positions.

Despite a strong performance in among the FTSE 100 the number of women in board level positions at FTSE 250 hospitality, travel and leisure companies was 2.5% lower than the cross-sector average at 22.4%. Although this does represent a 2.6% increase for the sector on 2018.

Elliott Goldstein, partner at the MBS Group, reported that the gap between those companies successfully increasing the number of women in senior positions and those who aren't has widened over the last year. He added that interviews with those companies who had lagged behind showed that for many leaders advancing female talent is still not a serious agenda item.

"We as an industry have made it very hard for women to make that next step… It should not be that hard for us to have that level of diversity of talent," said IHG chief executive Keith Barr, speaking at the launch of the report last night at PwC's offices in London.

"We need to provide those ladders to get people through to the top tiers," added UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls. "There's no reason it has to be a bad work-life balance or be done the way it has always traditionally been done… we can all make sure that we're not driving some of that macho culture that the only way to do that operational role is if you're here 24 hours a day."

For the first time the 2019 review has looked at the lack of ethnic diversity amongst the sector's senior leaders, with black, Asian and minority ethnic talent making up just one in 33 industry leaders.

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