Restaurants and the wider hospitality sector should be more supportive of mothers, according to Ravinder Bhogal, who was speaking at a virtual summit for women in hospitality.
The AllAboutFood Summit was run by all-female member's club AllBright and Belu Water. Bhogal, chef-patron of Jikoni restaurant in London's Marylebone, Ali Earl-Grey, head of marketing at Kricket, and Debbie Wosskow, co-founder of AllBright, took part in ‘the big re-open (with purpose) masterclass', which was chaired by Harriet Minter. They discussed reopening hospitality businesses post-lockdown, supporting the wider hospitality ecosystem and also about fostering a more supportive environment for mothers.
Bhogal said: "I feel very strongly that if you are in a position of power and you have the power to employ people, and if you have a team that is not representative and is not diverse, and that is racially as well as by gender, then you need to have some really tough conversations with yourself, because the world is changing."
She continued: "Mothers are a classic example… there is this pool of talent – mothers who go off and have children – and then restaurants and hospitality are not being supportive that they've done this great thing of becoming mothers, and their lives and priorities and working hours change."
She said that, for her as an employer, her focus had been how to bring "this amazing pool of talent" back into the hospitality space.
Wosskow, meanwhile, emphasised that "sisterhood will really be needed right now", but added that businesses that do survive this will become "much better businesses [with] more awareness of P&L".
She said the AllBright club in London's Soho was pivoting by "responding to how our community wants to engage with our building". She urged businesses to think about their community's needs, "and flexing the model to sit with that".
Responding to a question regarding the older market returning to hospitality spaces, Earl-Grey said she didn't think they'll be "rushing to restaurants", pointing out that "you can't force people to come back if they're not comfortable", and emphasised the importance of communicating what you as a business are doing to keep customers safe.