“BC is ready to rethink the conversation surrounding hospitality leadership. We invite women to take their seat at the table, whether it be the prep table, bar counter, reservation desk, or boardroom.” - Joanna Jagger, Founder of the BC Women in Hospitality Association.
On May 28th, 2018, women from accommodation, food service, and tourism were connected for an evening of networking with an inspiring panel discussion. Empower Her brought together a community of hospitality leaders to expand their network and create meaningful relationships.
A panel of Vancouver’s top female hospitality executives shared inspiring ideas and sparked dialogue about issues that impact women in the workplace. Their perspectives and insights helped inform, inspire, and empower women as we collectively identified ways to accelerate women to senior roles in the hospitality industry.
Meeru Dhalwala, Author, Chef, Co-owner Vij's, Rangoli
Arlene Hall, Regional Director of Human Resources, Fairmont
Marion Harper Treskin, General Manager of the JW Marriott parq Vancouver & The Douglas
Chef Elizabeth Manville, Innovation, Procurement and Quality Control at Cactus Club
Claire Smith, Vice President, Sales and Marketing at the Vancouver Convention Centre
From a Restaurant Hostess seating guests for a meal, to an Event Coordinator planning weddings and events, to a Marketing Manager driving business to hotels in a thriving downtown core, I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for 11 years. I can tell you first-hand that the industry is not as glamorous as one may think. The hours are long, the expectations (from your boss and guests) are extremely high and the pay is often not commensurate.
So why do we do it? I truly believe it takes a special type of individual to pursue a career in hospitality. In an industry that focuses on personal connections, you need someone who enjoys working with people, someone who can think outside the box and someone who can go above and beyond to create a memorable experience.
Having a personal interest and connection in the industry, I recently had the privilege to attend Empower Her, the very first networking event hosted in Vancouver, BC by the BC Women in Hospitality Association. The association provides members with opportunities for networking, mentorship, education, and development.
The Gender Pay Gap. Discrimination. Work/Life Balance Challenges. Lack of Advancement Opportunities. Retention Challenges. Sexual Harassment. Occupational Gender Segregation. Bias. These topics only scratch the surface in examining the complex landscape for women in hospitality and tourism leadership.
The BC Women in Hospitality Association was formed to combat these issues. It's time for female industry leaders work to collectively move the dial. Hospitality lags behind other industries in advancing women into senior roles.
Some Key Takeaways:
Imposter Syndrome - There is a psychological phenomenon, known as impostor syndrome, that reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure. In a study, it was found that a third of millennials experience self-doubt at work, with 40% of women saying they felt intimidated, compared to 22% of men asked. When we break through the noise telling us we are not enough or we cannot do something, we can truly begin to work towards achieving our personal goals.
Perspective - There is an age-old dichotomy between feeling and thinking. This dichotomy has been packaged as emotion vs. rationality, and is, of course, highly racialized and gendered. Women feel, men think. This does not mean that a man is better suited to be a leader compared to a woman, or vice versa. Instead of pitting the two traits against the other, remember that a strong leader should possess a balance of both. A good leader is someone who is able to connect and relate and also is someone who can think objectively.
Female Guilt - Why is it so hard for women to have both a career and family? I am someone who has an aspiration to become a supermom one day and I was extremely inspired to learn that several women on the panel are moms themselves. As a woman, there is certainly an innate feeling of expectation to be the primary caretaker for your family. However, in 2018, why do we applaud dads for taking their kids to the park but shame moms for going back to work?
Imagine yourself standing in front of a 6-inch wall. When you are working, you are on one side of the wall. When you become a parent, you step over that wall to care for your child. When you return to work, you step back over that wall again. If you decide to take time off or work part-time, you step over that wall again. That’s all it is. Making a decision that is best for you and your family should not be any more stressful than stepping over a 6-inch wall.
4. Success and Gender - According to The Castell Project. Analysis of the STR Directory of Hotel & Lodging Companies, 2016, less than 2% of women hold leadership positions in the hotel industry in BC. As of 2016, men have been 10 times more likely to be promoted to the principal/partner or president levels than women, four times more likely to be promoted to the EVP/group president level and more than twice as likely to be promoted to the Senior VP, VP, or district level. Today, women are still pursuing leadership positions built for men. Instead of trying to squeeze yourselves into a mold created for your male counterpart, think about changing the mold to make it fit for a female. Success and gender do not need to be related.
I am so proud to be a part of Thin Pig Media, which was the first company to jump on board as a title sponsor of the BC Women in Hospitality Association. Our team was honored to create the logo and provide graphic design services for the event.
I believe it’s time to rethink the conversation surrounding hospitality leadership. I believe it’s time to empower women to think outside the box and encourage them to break barriers. I believe it’s time to let everyone know that “throwing like a girl” means you’re a bad-a$$ player on the team.