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Women in the Hospitality Industry

Sexual assault and harassment in restaurants is certainly not new but is now in the spotlight thanks to the recent “Me Too” movement, sending a much-needed wakeup call to the industry. The restaurant industry has historically relied heavily on woman in the workplace. In 2017, women made up nearly 54 percent of industry employees, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unfortunately, that majority percentage has not always translated into appointments of women to the senior levels in the industry. A trend that has been changing slowly, and with more women now speaking out, the movement of women into impactful industry roles should accelerate. Progressive companies are becoming open to varying styles of executive management. Studies show that women tend to be more open and collaborative, allowing ideas to flow from the bottom up versus top down. They offer different perspectives than their male counterparts. The competition to attract changing customer bases is fierce. As the percentage of women in the total U.S. workforce continues to escalate, females have also made gains in disposable income. Gen Z is just now entering the workforce with different needs. Millennials are maturing, beginning families and moving into positions of authority. Each of these segments holds new marketing challenges. At a time when the labor market is tight, more women are now graduating from college, well positioning them to capitalize on employment opportunities. Job growth opportunities and company culture are not only important to Millennials and Gen Z, but to women as well. The approach to job seeking has significantly changed in the past 10 years as women, Gen Z, and millennials are taking a more idealistic approach and considering intangibles such as how companies treat their employees, the environment, and social responsibility before they apply for a job. As the number of women in the restaurant workforce increases and the glass ceiling breaks, they become strong role models for new employees with ambitions of moving ahead in the organization. The traditional mentoring model with its formal structure is evolving. Mentoring is now allowed to develop naturally. In a recent article in QSR Magazine, Jamba Juice Human Resources Director Humera Kassem claims that “mentoring that is organic is better.” The old saying that a restaurant is where you work before you get a job is breaking down. The National Restaurant Association reports that females represent approximately half of all restaurant business ownership. Qualified women in the corporate world are demonstrating that they will rise to the top in numbers equal to men. Given the current evolution of women in the hospitality industry, my forebears were indeed forward thinkers.

by Joe Radice, Vice President, Wray Executive Search ——

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