Over the years, women have struggled to make a name for themselves. But, how has the hospitality sector reacted? And just how much have women changed the hospitality industry?

Even just fifty years ago, women struggled to reach higher positions or make significant changes in most industries, let alone hospitality. Now, however, the industry is almost 100% inclusive and women are found at every level right up to CEO, demonstrating hugely positive change.

Indeed, improvements are still yet to be made. A lot remains to be seen over the next decade. But hopefully, equality will not only be implemented at all levels but across the world. 

Be that as it may, let’s take a little look back at how women in leadership roles across the industry have evolved.

46% of men in the travel and hospitality industry believe it is excellent in terms of gender equity, compared to just 26% of women. Listening to the minority to improve this is key for future development. 

Women make up more than 53.7% of the workforce in the hospitality industry. And over the past decade, this has been an even higher figure as women often make up the majority of women working who have taken on entry-level roles in hotels, such as cleaners or receptionists. 

Now, however, there has been an increase in women in senior-level positions, such as General Managers, and executive corporate roles, and in 2020 the number of women appointed at the board level rose by 5.5%. Although this number should be much higher. On top of that, in 2022, only one woman occupies a top position for every 10 that are occupied by men, although the eventual target is for women to occupy at least one in every three. 

Women-led Tech

Women are paving the way in distinct areas of the hospitality industry, and breaking barriers as they do. One of these areas is hospitality tech. Some hotels in the UK have implemented an app which uses gig workers to clean the rooms, rather than hiring full-time staff. The change has been welcomed by the workers, many of whom are female, as choosing your shifts provides far greater flexibility in terms of work-life balance, particularly when it comes to childcare. It also offers higher rates of pay and better benefits. 

Another female-founded app changing the industry is TipBrightly, which is a tipping platform that uses QR codes. Currently, the app is available in the US, with hopes to take it global, however, it is vital everywhere for those in roles that rely on tipping since many guests no longer carry cash. 

Food and Beverage

It is an outdated expectation that the kitchen is dominated by women, however, in the hospitality industry, this could not be further from reality. In professional kitchens, particularly within hotels, men have traditionally held the most senior positions such as Head Chef, Sous Chef and more. This has also led to a tight-knit culture of exclusion which made it difficult for female chefs, sommeliers or managers to break into the industry. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of female chefs in the UK rose by a third, signalling positive change. 

In 2022, women are making serious headway in kitchens across the world, and some of the most respected chefs are now female, along with executive-level experts in wine, food and service. However, there is a long way to go, as although the hospitality industry is predominantly female, 58% of senior roles are still filled by men. By many, this is seen to be caused by the intense nature of many chef positions, which require full-time and unsociable hours, which are generally difficult to juggle with childcare, however other companies are pushing for female chefs to have more flexibility in how they work. 

Female-powered sustainability

Sustainability is a key trend in the hospitality and travel industry both this year and going forwards, and in this area, women are already pioneers. Room2 in Chiswick, London is the city’s first net zero hotel, and at the helm are two women, one the owner and the other the Head of Sustainability at the hotel’s parent company. In 2021, the award for the most sustainable hotel in England was given to Sue Wiliams, the General Manager of the Whatley Hotel in the Cotswolds. 

She is just one of the women working there who are consistently pushing for more positive environmental changes in the industry. Another woman striving for change is Marianna Gybels, who is the Director of Sustainability at Booking.com. Gybels was the first to introduce the site’s ‘Travel Sustainable’ badge for properties, which indicates hotels that make a conscious effort to be more environmentally friendly. 

The Statistics

Due to the pandemic, the hospitality industry has suffered huge difficulties and changes. However, if we look at the pre-Covid situation in 2019, there are clear areas for improvement. Only 7% of top hotel CEOs were women, although this is increasing slowly, with many international hotel chains such as Marriott now having female presidents, and KLM recently naming its first female CEO, Marjan Rintel. On a positive note, the industry has one of the lowest gender pay gaps of any sector at just 7%, although the ultimate goal is for this to be 0%. 

There is still plenty of room for females to work in top-level positions, as the number of women at board or executive level in the corporate side of hospitality is just 22%. In the UK, only 17% of Chef positions are held by women, however, you will find a majority of these in London. Females in executive or Head Chef positions include Masha Rener, the executive chef at Lina Stores, Meriel Armitage, the founder of Club Mexicana in Soho, and Esra Muslu, the chef and founder of Zahter. Within the general industry, women previously occupied more human resources-based roles, however now there are more women in chief marketing, revenue and sustainability positions.

Women @ Nestor

At Nestor, we continue to empower women across the travel, hotel and hospitality industry and consistently promote and encourage women in breaking into and succeeding in this industry.

We appreciate the dedication of all our female employees at every level, and work with a number of talented, female-led partners such as Cole & Co, who provide sustainable toiletries in all of our properties; and Who Gives A Crap, who offer eco-friendly, ethically produced toilet paper.

Why not book a stay with friends or family in one of our comfortable London properties to celebrate the women in your life, or even yourself? We look forward to welcoming you soon. 

To take advantage of our best rates, book directly on our site