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Women Gain Ground in Hospitality Leadership According to New AHLA Foundation Report

Progress is happening for women in hospitality leadership according to a new report by AHLA Foundation and conducted by Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management, but there is definitely room for improvement. The 2023 “Women in Hospitality” research report findings indicate that in 2022 the hospitality industry made steady, incremental progress toward women’s advancement to executive leadership roles, while underscoring areas of opportunity to further diversify representation across industry fields.

Women in Hospitality Report 2023
image credit: AHLA Foundation / Penn State

Key Findings from the Women in Hospitality Report

  • Women now hold one in four of all chief-level positions at hotel companies, although mostly in human resources and sales/marketing roles.

  • At the director level, women now occupy an equal number of positions as men. Women have experienced gains in leadership positions in hospitality investment and development since 2019, going from one woman for every 10 men to one woman for every 7.9 men. On the other hand, women have been losing ground in the very top roles in investment and development over the past four years, as there are now approximately 27.5 men in CIO/CDO positions for every woman CIO/ CDO.

  • Women held 24% of the podium spots at hotel investment conferences, up from 16% in 2017.

  • On the main stage, 37% of prime speaking spots in 2022 went to women – up from 22% just a year earlier in 2021. However, decreases in moderator spots (26% - down from 36% in 2021) offset these main stage gains in overall podium numbers.

This is the sixth annual benchmark report commissioned by the AHLA Foundation. Researchers under the direction of Phillip Jolly, PhD, assistant professor of hospitality management at Penn State, reviewed publicly available data spanning more than 6,000 individuals from 701 companies and more than 7,000 hotel investment conference attendees.

“We want to see equity for women at the leadership level and across the hotel industry, and this progress is encouraging,” said AHLA Foundation President Anna Blue. “Representation is only the first step. We see growing efforts by our members to prioritize intersectional leadership, inclusion, and belonging for women in the industry.”

“Although we must continue to increase representation of women leaders in hospitality, it’s encouraging that the hotel industry is steadfastly working together to address longstanding inequities. This report shows that change is possible,” said Donna Quadri, PhD, Marvin Ashner director of the Penn State University School of Hospitality Management.

courtesy AHLA Foundation / Penn State Women in Hospitality Report 2023
Progress is being made, but women remain a fraction of leadership. (image credit: AHA Foundation/ Penn State)

Room for Improvement for Women in Hospitality

Overall, the report noted that the lodging and accommodation workforce was 58% female in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics¹. When we look at it from that standpoint, really just a fraction of women make up leadership, which confirms that there is so much room for improvement.

"At the director level, women now occupy an equal number of positions as men, yet the disparities in representation increase as one moves up the organizational hierarchy," according to the report. This is why we now more than ever we need to keep working towards supporting and inspiring women as they strive to rise in the hospitality industry.

Click here to view the full report.


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