Programme launched to support ethnic minority future leaders in hospitality

27 January 2021 by
Programme launched to support ethnic minority future leaders in hospitality

Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure (WiHTL) has launched a programme in partnership with McDonald's UK & Ireland to support ethnic minority leaders in the hospitality, travel and leisure sector with their progression into more senior roles.

The Ethnic Minority Future Leaders Programme was launched yesterday, borne out of collaboration between members of WiHTL's Race & Ethnicity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure Committee. It aims to improve representation in leadership by identifying and investing in existing high-potential ethnic minority employees, creating opportunities for participants to learn from inspiring and diverse industry role models and working with leaders across the industry to support their career progression.

While there is great ethnic diversity at entry level across the sectors, research shows that the senior levels do not represent society and the Black, Asian and minority ethnic working age population.

The 2020 WiHTL Annual Report - From Intention to Action, produced in partnership with the MBS Group and PwC, found that 82.5% of companies have no Black, Asian and minority ethnic leaders at board level and just 12.5% of companies are in line with or greater than the UK working age population.

More than 40% of hospitality, travel and leisure companies have no Black, Asian and minority ethnic representation at all at direct report level and more than 80% have no Black, Asian and minority ethnic leaders on their executive committee.

There are 40 people taking part in the programme from nearly 20 companies, including Airbnb, Bourne Leisure, Compass Group, Elior, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Greene King, Nando's, PizzaExpress, Wagamama and Whitbread. The first cohort will run with monthly sessions on a range of leadership development themes until June and the programme aims to create its own alumni network.

The programme also includes multiple sessions for the line manager of each participant as well as a reverse mentoring programme where the participants will mentor a senior leader in a different organisation to their own.

WiHTL founder and chair Tea Colaianni said: "It was truly inspiring to see over 20 companies joining forces to develop our future talent from an ethnic minority background, engaging with line managers, senior executive reverse mentees and executive sponsors to create lasting connections, starting a change process for the good of our industry and broader society, championing the cause for inclusion and challenge behaviours that exclude rather than include. Conversations about race are not easy, but together we can create a lasting positive impact on our industry."

Meeta Zakharia, head of HR and inclusion at McDonald's, added: "The carefully crafted elements of the programme will help delegates to develop a peer network and learn through sharing, support and collaboration. But what will be truly special is creating a focus on the role that line managers, executive sponsors and senior reverse mentees play in creating a more inclusive culture, which can only benefit the wider business and have a lasting impact."

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