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New Study on Women and Minorities in Hospitality: Change Starting from Entry-Level not Leadership

Ethnic diversity in the hospitality sector is improving from entry-level up, according to a recent survey of over 400 global participants carried out by WiH, supported by Questex and Hospitality Insights. But, more action is needed to drive change at the leadership level, where the percentage of women and minorities remains low.

Peggy Berg, Founder & President, Castell Project, says “The US hospitality industry employs more women than men and it employs Black workers at 44.6 percent above their 12.1 percent pro-rata share of the employed US civilian labor force. This does not carry through to leadership; at the director to CEO levels, 1.6 percent are Black."

The picture is the same when looking at the representation of women in hospitality, with 66% of middle management being female, indicating the potential for levelling up to top positions in time.

"The odds of a woman reaching the executive leadership level in the US (CEO, partner/principal, president, C-suite) were one woman to 5.7 men at the end of 2020. At the highest levels, white men have been the majority of people selected for US public board positions every year, including years when women and Black people have made the greatest gains. Change at these levels is slow because they are usually career-capping long-term positions." says Berg.

Opportunity with Turnover of Baby Boomers

"Economic drivers including the strain of responding to COVID-19 and demo-graphic drivers, such as a preponderance of Baby Boomer men in these roles, will result in significant turnover in the next few years," added Berg. This presents an opportunity for change, but "the challenge for the industry is to fully develop a diverse talent pool so that the best candidate for the company can emerge. The best candidate is sometimes, but not always, male."

This is the first survey conducted by WiH Global, a global not-for-profit on a mission to create a hospitality industry that is more diverse and inclusive, and Questex. The plan is to use this year’s survey as a benchmark for an annual study.


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