Progress! Fifth Hotel Industry Leadership Study from Castell Project

Big news, today the Castell Project, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the careers of women professionals in the hospitality industry, released the 2022 Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership report. Now in its fifth year, the report details women’s progress in leadership positions within the hospitality industry.



“As the hospitality industry rebuilds the jobs it has lost since the start of the pandemic, developing career opportunities for women and minorities is even more vital in the hotel sector,” said Peggy Berg, chair, Castell Project.


“This report tracks progress and we are seeing more women in senior executive roles, successfully advancing every aspect of their companies. There are more women on the podium, building their own careers and inspiring others. There are more women owners, including women of color. Recognition of the value and importance of diverse leadership is now widespread, so we expect these trends to accelerate."


More highlights from the report include:

  • Women are gaining representation in hotel company leadership roles (CEO, president, founder, etc.). Although still skewed in favor of men, women now hold one leadership spot for every 10.3 men, an improvement from one to 11.2 in 2019.

  • At the manager/director levels, women now hold 1 in 3 hospitality brokerage positions and 1 in 6 at the VP/SVP/EVP level. The number of male VP/SVP/EVPs at hotel investment conferences did not change materially while the number of women doubled. Broker representation went from one woman to 10.1 men in 2017 to one woman to 7.2 men in 2021.

  • Women speak at 22 percent of hospitality investment conference podiums, up from 16 percent in 2017. This is important because women’s visibility on the podium accelerates careers and inspires other women.

C-Suite Moves

During the pandemic, women earned impressive C-suite promotions including Gilda Perez-Alvarado becoming CEO of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, Amber Asher being promoted to CEO of Standard Hotels, and Stephanie Linnartz promoted to President of Marriott International.


Having gathered recently in Los Angelis for the annual Annual Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) engendered optimism. "Seeing Gilda, Amber, Leslie, Stephanie, Heather and a growing roster of other rising women has made a huge difference. It is only starting to show in the numbers, but the impact on attitudes is already palpable," she continued.

Women feel that they can compete and create opportunities for themselves. Men now expect to see women in leadership roles instead of discounting the possibility.

Technology and Training Offers Hope

Technology is making a difference. "I’m excited about the apps that enable hotel companies to provide flexible scheduling for their employees, for instance. I’m also excited about the men and women who work with the Castell Project and other leadership development programs," added Peggy. "People management attitudes and skills have come a long way in the industry’s best employers. That has to spread widely to overcome the image problem we now face."


Despite this, Challenges Remain

Although the gender pay gap has narrowed since the signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women earned 82 cents for every dollar a man earns according to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, says a new report from the US Census Bureau "Part of the problem is that women work in low pay (implying less desirable) industries like hospitality. That perception is harmful and we can’t change perception without changing reality," adds Peggy.


The perception remains a challenge. "When men leave a company, the perception is that they were a desirable commodity and another firm competed for their talent, they got a better offer," she continued. "When women leave, too often the perception is that they couldn’t compete or dropped out for family priorities.


To grow female talent, the industry needs to compete creatively against all kinds of better offers. "That may be money or titles, but it can also include job flexibility and how we treat people. Getting it right isn’t just about retaining female talent, it will make a difference with millennial men as well."


Peggy Berg, founder and CEO, Castell Project
Peggy Berg, Castell Project

Working on the Pipeline

The presence of women at top hotel programs is a priority, “Enrollment at college and university hospitality programs is declining among men as well as women. Advanced education is the industry’s talent pipeline. Our Castell@College initiative inspires students by showing them desirable futures through the hospitality industry. However, broader work to upgrade the industry’s reputation as an employer and career option is critical for women and the industry.”


This research is supported by the AHLA Foundation (AHLAF). To download a copy of the report, please visit www.CastellProject.org.