Coming together to boost inclusion: How the diversity in hospitality, travel and leisure charter is providing a rallying point for industry-wide action

12 July 2018

Diverse businesses are stronger businesses. I see this every day across my work with clients and colleagues.

The reasons are plain to see. Diversity brings fresh perspectives into decision making. Business leaders better reflect the customers they serve. And great talent wants to work for organisations where they know they can reach their potential.

While the case for more women in senior management is compelling in all industries, it’s especially so for hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL). Women make up half the customers and more than half of staff. If the make-up of your board doesn’t reflect this, you’re missing out on a vital element of customer and employee understanding and your performance will suffer as a result. According to Tea Colaianni, chair of the Women in Hospitality 2020 working group, “given the diversity of customers and staff, ensuring that all levels of an organisation are representative is mission-critical for the continued success of the industry.”

Falling short

How far has HTL come? We at PwC recently worked with Women in Hospitality 2020, Korn Ferry, People 1st, Oxford Brookes and others to assess whether HTL is equipped to achieve 33% female representation across boards and executive committees by 2020 – a target set by the Hampton-Alexander Review.

According to the Women in hospitality, travel and leisure 2020 report, while women are well represented in junior and middle management, a gender gap begins to emerge the further up the organisation you go – only 3% of the CEOs in the HTL sector are women.

The industry’s record on gender pay is equally mixed. The first round of statutory disclosures shows that there continues to be far more men than women in senior and technical roles and far more women in lower paid and unskilled positions.

Leading the way

However, some stand out companies are achieving remarkable results. For example, a number of groups within the HTL industry now have 40% or more women on their boards, including Greggs, Whitbread, Merlin Entertainment and Intercontinental Hotels. This reflects the high level of boardroom commitment to identifying and nurturing female talent on the one side and tackling unconscious biases, inflexible working practices and other barriers to retention and progress on the other.

Can’t do it alone

Yet, what comes through strongly from the interviews and research carried out for the report is that companies can’t do it all on their own and therefore industry-wide collaboration is critical. This includes putting forward role models and sharing best practice in areas such as flexible working and women’s returners programmes. Joint campaigns can also help to improve the reputation of HTL on diversity and inclusion and hence enhance the ability of all organisations in the industry to compete for talent.  

The new diversity in hospitality, travel and leisure charter, the first of its kind in the sector,

looks at ways that HTL businesses can share experiences and work together to overcome barriers. In addition to bringing diversity into company strategy and opening up progress to greater scrutiny, the ten point action plan includes commitments to contribute to industry research and to work collaboratively with others to tackle barriers to diversity.

It’s really encouraging to see how many companies are using the charter as a focal point for collaboration. And the more companies that sign up and get involved, the stronger the industry is going to be.

David Trunkfield | Partner
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Email | +44 (0)7764 235446

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