Last week I joined a panel of industry peers to discuss Women in Hospitality. The Q&A session at the Waldorf Hilton was organised by The Institute of Hospitality and chaired by Peter Ducker FIH. The questions raised by Peter and the male and female attendees provided me with much food for thought – we’ve continued the discussion back at Vacherin HQ – so congrats IoH – you set out to get the industry talking about the current situation and to share best practice; you’ve certainly succeeded in our camp!

The subject of Brexit and the negative impact that it will have on recruitment was a big focus and concern. Paula Rogers of Admiral Recruitment shared the results of their recent research that evidenced the reduction in non UK applicants since Article 50 was triggered. This set the stage for the conversation to centre on how, as an industry we can attract, retain and develop our people to fulfil their potential:

  • You can’t underestimate the value of mentoring and the benefits of sharing the knowledge gained from experience. Of course the benefits of being mentored aren’t exclusive to women; although the issue of the Confidence Gap in men and women was raised. I’ve since read more on this – a study carried out at Cornell University found that men overestimate their abilities and performance, while women underestimate both, yet their actual performance does not differ in quality or quantity. Hewlett Packard found that this does result in men applying  for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, with women applying only if they meet 100% of them. This is a huge consideration for us all when succession planning; let’s bear in mind that some may need more support and encouragement than others in realising their ambition.


  • Flexibility is key in securing the best person for the role. Male or female, if we want the right person for our organisation we have to look at how we can make the role work for them and take an open-minded approach to making the role fit with their lifestyle. The hospitality industry hasn’t always been on the front-foot with flexible working but we need to stand up and take notice – an article in the Caterer in March 2018 states “As well as younger generations demanding a less stressful, healthier lifestyle, today’s employees have competing responsibilities, such as childcare, caring for elderly relatives, further education or religious observances. In short, businesses that take a holistic approach will attract and retain the best talent.”


  • How can we benefit from a more diverse workforce? The subject of companies setting ‘quotas’ for women in senior roles was raised. This steered the discussion to how we can focus our attention on employing or developing the ‘right person for the right job’ and supporting them to enable them to fulfill their role, whatever their situation. It was broadly agreed that in businesses where there is disparity in diversity, this would make a positive difference.


  • The hospitality industry is full of opportunity. My own career path is testament to the fantastic opportunities for women in our industry. We need to promote open-mindedness and flexibility from employers, regardless of age, gender or personal circumstances. We also need to encourage women (and men) to think about how they can make the opportunities work for them – Hospitality offers such a diverse range of roles, careers can evolve over time to accommodate changes in personal circumstances. With an appetite for self-development and support from an employer, the sky’s the limit!

Thank you to Peter and the Institute of Hospitality for inviting me to take part in the discussion – let’s keep this all-important conversation going and play our part in future proofing our industry to make sure that continue to attract and retain the very best people.