Following International Women's Day (8 March), the hospitality industry should further elevate and mentor female future leaders, says Macdonald Hotels & Resorts brand director Kellie Rixon MBE.
A lack of female representation at board level in our industry is something we must challenge and the onset of International Women's Day is an apt time for women and men to further the conversation about how we support the female rising stars in hospitality.
Making a stand is not only the right thing to do it also makes good commercial sense. From ensuring we have a balance of management styles in the business, to effectively mirroring the gender of our customer base, there are many business critical reasons for having women in leadership roles.
In most jobs within the industry, women set out on a career surrounded by their other female recruits. But look at the same women years later when they have reached board level and they will likely have very few female peers.
That's why we need to support women from the very first day these female future leaders start in the industry. After all, on that first day in a kitchen or at a reception desk, who could imagine being head of department, being awarded or even being CEO? The amazing thing about our industry: with hard work and a genuine love for what you do, no goal is too small regardless of your entry point.
Inspiring this kind of ambition must start with the right development intervention and strong mentors to emulate. This is critical to enable women to fulfil their true potential. We should encourage female candidates to apply for senior roles and prepare them for success. This means creating a culture of opportunity and as an industry it's our responsibility to give women the chance to try all areas of the business, including ones that may not have been a traditionally ‘female role'.
Mentoring women at important stages in their careers should be another focus. As leaders, we must identify ‘high potential' women and give them crucial one-on-one guidance. That may be through a formal mentoring scheme or by simply opening our doors and offering those small pieces of advice that come from years of experience.
It is certainly not the case with all women, but confidence is an issue that affects many. We need to encourage women at all levels to have a considered viewpoint and have the confidence to put these views on the table.
Finally once we've started a conversation about how to better support female leaders, we must keep talking about it far beyond International Women's Day.