Progress Toward Gender-Balanced Hospitality Leadership

A new report offers encouraging news about women in leadership positions in hotel sales, marketing, and revenue management.

By Peggy Berg, Chair, Castell Project

With the HSMAI Foundation’s mission focused on driving talent and leadership development in the hospitality industry, it’s important to evaluate progress according to a variety of metrics, including diversity in the C-suite. Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership, a new report from the Castell Project, offers some encouraging news when it comes to gender diversity among sales, marketing, and revenue leadership.

Presenting the results of a survey of 5,525 executives at 802 hotel companies, including 536 sales and marketing and 229 revenue management executives, the report finds that —from vice president to chief marketing officer and chief revenue officer — men and women are nearly equally balanced in sales and marketing as well as revenue management in corporate offices. In fact, women are now gaining a majority share, leading most other hospitality fields in gender diversity:

Add in the director level, and the mix skews toward women. This indicates that women soon will become a substantial majority of higher-level roles in these fields:

The mix is very different in other fields. Human resources is by far the field where women have been accepted as leaders for the longest and have taken a strong majority. Sales and marketing along with revenue management are next, while fields like investment/development and technology/information are still doing poorly at attracting, developing, and retaining female talent.

In addition, industry leadership overall is still strongly skewed toward men. This suggests that women have trouble moving from sales and marketing or revenue management into broader top leadership. The goal is representation across the entire industry. If HR and sales and marketing are perceived as “women’s fields,” then the influence — and compensation — awarded in those fields will diminish.

Gaining balanced representation for women as well as men in leadership across all fields is a challenge on two fronts. On one front, corporate culture has to change. This has been inching along for 40 years or more, and lately it’s been moving at a faster pace, with McKinsey reporting “a substantial performance differential — 48 percent — between the most and least gender-diverse companies.” As companies benefit from the larger talent pool that includes women, performance improves, meaning that results like these are accelerating change.

On another front, women have to adapt to compete in this new corporate environment. That change has also been happening for more than 40 years — nearly two generations. However, as the statistics indicate, there is still room to grow.

It’s an exciting time to be building a career in the hospitality industry, which is filled with change and therefore opportunity. Whether you are a woman building a career, a leader developing talent for your company, or both, developing diverse talent to deepen a company’s resources is a challenge and an opportunity. And sales and marketing and revenue management are leading the way.

Peggy Berg chairs the Castell Project, a nonprofit organization advancing women in leadership in the hospitality industry. Under her guidance, Castell delivers leadership development for women, benchmarks the status of women in the hospitality industry, encourages women in university hospitality programs, and promotes women on the podium. Fortuna’s Table, Castell’s initiative to advance women in hotel ownership, just launched.

Categories: Marketing, Talent and Leadership Development
Insight Type: Articles