Women are still struggling to reach the top of the hospitality industry because of difficulties juggling work and family commitments, leading figures in the sector have warned.
Despite the increasing number of women entering the industry over the last decade, the highest positions in the industry are still commonly held by men, due largely to women shying away from longer hours when starting a family, according to a Caterer poll of 46 senior women.
Zoe Jenkins, food and beverage manager at London's Dorchester hotel, reflected the views of many when she said: "If you want to see your kids after school, look after them when they're ill or spend time with them on holiday, then the senior, more time-consuming positions can be restrictive."
Namita Panjabi, co-director of Masala World, agreed that despite the hospitality sector becoming more appealing to females, problems remained. She called on employers to offer more help to women. "We're going in the right direction but many still find it hard to juggle family," she said. "I'd like to see more home help and crèche facilities to allow women the time to reach the very top."
Penny Moore, chief executive of Hospitality Action, urged the Government to provide more legislative support.
"We need some sort of tax relief to help with childcare, more women on boards and equal pay for all - if it's good enough for Wimbledon players it's good enough for us," she said.
But Robyn Jones, chief executive of contract caterer Charlton House, insisted that getting to the top was not impossible. "It can be very tough, juggling long hours and trying to bring up a family but lots of women do it very successfully," she said.
By Tom Vaughan
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