We are currently going through an important evolution in society where women are making the final push to be equals when it comes to education, health and workforce participation. The gender gap is still prevalent in many countries and societies (including the western world) and whilst industry leaders have given lip service to the idea of gender equality, it seems things may actually be progressing – progress that should have been reality in past decades.
The changing situation in Saudi Arabia comes to mind as an example of progress, albeit one step at a time. Later this year, women will finally to be able to drive in Saudi Arabia and women are increasingly becoming part of the workforce in the country, challenging the cultural and social norms.
Following a push for ‘Saudization’ in the hospitality industry, for the first-time, we are seeing local Saudi’s work in rank and file positions in hotels, providing a local flavour which has been previously missing. Women are a key part of this initiative, and while surely a challenge for many hoteliers at this time (and also for the Saudi’s themselves), it is only a matter of time before positive results are forthcoming.
Looking at the overall situation in hospitality, there is increasing emergence of female Hotel General Managers and in Senior Executive and Corporate roles, that would have traditionally been occupied by men.
While during the early development stages of the industry in Europe, the Middle East and Asia the Executive Housekeeper was probably one of the only female positions in the management team, this has been steadily changing and we now see that, even in the Middle East, female General Managers are making major inroads in what was predictably a male dominated region.
This of course challenges cultural boundaries for many employees and employers because of their perception of women in leadership positions, particularly within the context of their religion and culture.
There are various movements at this time to empower women and provide them with equality in the workplace in a largely male dominated environment, with the US leading the way to stop sexual harassment and assaults in a workplace or business environment.
The world is changing and so much progress has been made in many fields, opening doors to create a better and more just society. Achieving gender equality is important for workplaces, not only because it is ‘fair’ and ‘the right thing to do,’ but because it is also linked to a country’s overall economic performance.
The Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum states that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but is linked to a country’s overall economic performance.
“People and their talents are among the core drivers of sustainable, long-term economic growth. If half of these talents are underdeveloped or underutilized, growth and sustainability will be compromised. Moreover, there is a compelling and fundamental values case for empowering women: women represent one half of the global population—they deserve equal access to health, education, earning power and political representation.”
Having said all that it is now up to women to make it happen, show they’re equals and that they can do what the guys did for years.
I recently came across a couple of male candidates that had taken time off to look after their children while their wives continued to work and earn a living – that is another development that we have to become more accustomed to in our industry and not penalising those that make this choice for the benefit of their families. Women have been penalised for years for this decision, so perhaps if more men take on this role, at least the inequality will be truly recognised, and the situation will improve for all.
To face the challenges ahead, an open mind is required from all and an acceptance that equality in all its forms is happening. This is hopefully a new world order with changing stereotypes for both men and women.
To challenge traditional values, make them better and more equal is something the world needs to work on and this challenge is open to all, regardless of their cultural or religious background, because we are equals, although we might not be the same.
Maybe our industry can emerge as leader in the field and we can open our minds to the idea of a female Chief Engineer or Executive Chef and an Executive Housekeeper who is male or female…
We, at Elite Search pride ourselves in equally promoting female candidates to potential employers through The Elite Executive (our bi-weekly publication for leaders in the industry) and we hope that the pool of potential female candidates continues to grow.
About the author
Karl Faux is a veteran Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm.
For more information about Karl and Elite Search visit http://www.elitesearch.com.au and The Elite Hotelier http://www.elitehotelier.net