Quotas for female managers?

On International Women’s Day (8 March), Serena von der Heyde FIH MI makes the case for affirmative action to achieve greater diversity in the boardrooms of the hospitality industry19 Serena von der Hyde FIH

Like a lot of people, I don’t like quotas – I don’t think they are fair – but recently I have started to think again. Nearly 60% of the UK workforce in our industry are women yet only just over 20% of our managers are women, and these figures have been almost static for more than 20 years.  We know that businesses with more women leaders are more successful and more profitable, so why aren’t companies rushing to develop and promote them?  The benefits of diversity are proven, but still progress in achieving diversity is glacially slow.

We want a fair workplace for our young women and men, and optimum performance for our businesses, and yet a compelling business case has failed to bring about change; then should we consider quotas?

Quotas have been shown to get results, and fast.  They have been used across Europe to promote women in politics and business since Norway started in 2003.  Many countries including Iceland, France, Spain and now Germany have followed suit, and the numbers of board-level women have risen in those countries. What’s more, there is some evidence that where quotas have been in use for some time, diversity becomes self-fulfilling. The culture and infrastructure has changed to the extent that women and men are coming through to leadership levels in equal numbers. In Belgium, the quota system states that both sexes must be represented for applications for roles in politics, and recently it is male applicants that have been hard to recruit. For quotas to work, they need to come with strict repercussions. In France, businesses were threatened with de-regulation if they failed to meet quotas. In Spain there were no sanctions for not meeting quotas, and as a result Spain has been far less successful. Quotas without teeth are ineffective.

One of the main arguments against quotas is that they prevent promotion on merit. We want the best leaders for our businesses regardless of gender. But I challenge the notion that our meritocracy is working. If it was, wouldn’t we already have more women leaders? The truth is that our societal and cultural background is failing to provide a level playing field for our aspiring women leaders.  More women than men are graduating from our universities, and, on average, women have better grade degrees, but still we overlook their talents.  It is becoming clear that we have to learn diversity – it takes time for a culture to genuinely believe in the value of diversity, and then to implement processes that nurture it.

There is a difference between quotas and targets, in terms of delivering change; quotas enforce where targets incentivise. Personally, I believe that people learn better and change more when they can set their own agenda. Every business will have different issues affecting diversity, and real change is most effective when a strategy is developed specifically by the team for that business.  When regulations are imposed, teams spend half their efforts working on strategies to sidestep the new rules, and quotas can result in alienating the team.

For my own business, where we need to develop male leaders to ensure diversity, I will be:

  • Ensuring full and ongoing commitment to diversity from the leadership
  • Leading the development of our diversity strategy and targets
  • Publishing gender pay differences, and recording gender balance across the team and our leadership team

This type of approach gives businesses time to develop a pipeline of talented women (or in our case men), so that they can make quality appointments and showcase successful women within the business. I believe that hospitality businesses should be recording gender balance, monitoring gender pay gaps and publishing their own targets and strategy for diversity.  However, if these initiatives prove inadequate, then it is time to consider resorting to the faster, but blunter tool of quotas.

Serena von der Heyde FIH MI is the owner of The Georgian House Hotel, London

Sign up to the Diversity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure Charter here.


HQ Magazine Autumn 2017 out now


Your autumn edition of HQ Magazine has arrived in the UK and been dispatched to the rest of the world. It is available to view on our website now.

In this issue, our cover feature is on how to close the gender gap in hospitality. Globally, 70% of hospitality and tourism workers are female, and yet men hold the vast majority of management and board positions.

More women than men gain university degrees and women earn more than men early in their careers. But the situation starts to reverse when people get into their mid-thirties. Sometimes the pay gap appears because women take time off to have children. Sometimes they get ‘stuck’ at a particular level.

Tracey Fairclough MIH presents brand-new research based upon interviews with 100 women from our sector and, most importantly, provides a new road map towards achieving greater equality.

We report from an Institute of Hospitality roundtable discussion of GDPR and present the best ways to prepare for the new data protection laws that come into force in May 2018. Our participants found that GDPR is actually a good opportunity to spring-clean their data and re-think their marketing strategies.

Other topics covered this autumn include preparing chefs for the open kitchen environment, job-jumping and what it means for career progression and the new health-conscisousness sweeping through hospitality.

Editor Ben Walker AIH says: “I am encouraged to see so many of our members taking the initiative to get in touch and contribute excellent articles to the magazine. The majority of our magazine is generated by members for members. My warmest thanks go to all of our marvellous contributors. A big thank you also to our designer Miranda Willan at H2O Publishing for an especially eye-catching cover.”

Members can view the magazine by logging into the members’ area of our website.

If you are not a member, please join the Institute of Hospitality now to receive your copy of HQ Magazine.
Here is a free download from the current issue:

Report from Institute of Hospitality Roundtable on GDPR





Institute of Hospitality Endorses Training Programmes for the Homeless

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Providence Row bakery trainees celebrate the endorsement of their training programme by the Institute of Hospitality.

The Institute of Hospitality has endorsed training programmes that help people affected by homelessness enter the catering industry and turn their lives around.

The catering and bakery training courses are provided by Providence Row, a charity that works with more than 1,400 homeless and vulnerably housed people a year in East London, offering an integrated service of crisis support, advice, recovery and learning and training.

Peter Ducker FIH, chief executive, Institute of Hospitality, says: “Endorsement by the Institute of Hospitality demonstrates that Providence Row’s training courses meet a wide range of essential criteria and benchmarks relating to quality standards and quality learning outcomes.”

Dominic Gates, Enterprise and Training Manager, Providence Row, says:  “We’re absolutely thrilled to gain this prestigious endorsement as it’s a fantastic acknowledgement of our team’s great work offering catering and baking training to people affected by homelessness, substance misuse and mental health issues. In the last seven years, we’ve developed a traditional ‘soup kitchen’ into a supported training kitchen, offering people quality training to help them move away from homelessness and back into employment.”

Providence Row Charity has been helping vulnerable people for 160 years. It has been running the Catering Trainee Scheme for the last seven years, having worked with over 200 trainees, food designers, and nutritionists and over 20 professional chefs at Andaz Hotel Liverpool Street and other catering establishments. Providence Row has two full-time chefs with catering backgrounds. In addition, Andaz Hotel Liverpool Street provides workshops and work experience placements for trainees.

The Institute of Hospitality offers an endorsement service to training providers for the recognition of quality professional development and training.  


The Gram Go Green Summit is back for 2016

B295794780ack by popular demand, this Autumn’s Gram Go Green Summit is getting ready to tackle the issue of sustainability across an ever-changing foodservice landscape.

Taking place on 29 November at London’s sustainably committed venue, The Soho Hotel, The Gram Go Green Summit’s exciting line-up of industry experts including Kirsty Saddler from popular restaurant chain Leon, Mike Hanson MIH from BaxterStorey and celebrity Eco chef, Tom Hunt is ready to arm caterers and business owners with in-depth knowledge and simple tools to help them work towards a more financially and environmentally sustainable future for the wider industry.

The full-day conference will also see the launch of the long-awaited 4th Gram Green Paper. Published biennially, the paper reports on the attitudes and changes made in the foodservice industry over a two-year period.

For more information and to register visit www.gogreenwithgram.co.uk


Keeping hospitality and foodservice staff safe and well

You’ll often hear about our industry’s focus on customer service, but hospitality managers know that a business can’t function without happy, healthy staff. To help managers address one of the primary health complaints that can affect our industry, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has just released a new guide on Preventing contact dermatitis and urticaria at work. These conditions are as unpleasant as they sound and can make affected individuals’ lives a misery from the conditions’ resulting irritation, pain and inflammation. Often hands are affected and the appearance of dermatitis can make sufferers very self-conscious so there can be mental as well a physical side effects.

Dermatitis and urticaria can affect everyday activities
Dermatitis and urticaria can affect everyday activities and cause physical and emotional damage

According to  the HSE, dermatitis and urticaria are “defined as inflammation of the skin resulting from exposure to detergents, toiletries, chemicals and even natural products, for example, foods. Prolonged or frequent contact with water (often termed wet work) can also cause it.”

Hospitality managers who employ kitchen, cleaning or housekeeping staff, should be aware that these employees may be more susceptible to the conditions, however, the new HSE guide can help managers reduce – and even remove – the causes of dermatitis.

Download and read the guide to find out:

  • the signs and symptoms of dermatitis and urticaria
  • what the law requires from employers
  • how to conduct a straightforward risk assessment
  • how to prevent urticaria and dermatitis from developing using the ‘APC approach’; and
  • where to find further information and support

The HSE provides extensive resources and templates to support all industries in meeting their obligations to keep employees and the public safe. For further information on information specific to the catering and hospitality industry, see HSE.

Legionnaires’ strikes again: here’s some help from the Institute

Make certain your business is safe from legionella with our guide
Make certain your business is safe from legionella with our guide

The hospitality industry can be particularly susceptible to outbreaks of the deadly pneumonia, Legionnaires’, and this year has been no exception.

A recent outbreak in New York (source: USA Today) has resulted in at least 8 fatalties and more than 91 hospitalisations. Testing has confirmed that the locations where exposure took place include a hospital, a shopping plaza and a hotel.

Water cooling towers appear to be harboring the legionella bacteria in the New York cases, but air conditioning, spas and showers are all common sites as well. More importantly, outbreaks can occur in any climate, including in the UK.

To make certain your hospitality business is providing a healthy and legally-compliant workplace, read the Institute’s Management Guide, Managing Legionnaires’ Disease, for hospitality-specific guidance. The guide can help you ensure your business, staff and guests are safe from this invisible and potentially deadly threat.

Austin Reed explains how to look fab – not flash – when donning black tie

Everything you need to dress the part this social season
Everything you need to dress the part this social season

Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties are notorious for, ahem, cheeky behaviour and less-than-suitable outfits, even when black tie is specified.

Purveyors of sophisticated business attire, Austin Reed, have stepped in to help by issuing the Austin Reed Black Tie Directory.

Now, gentlemen, there is no excuse for not looking the part when you are socialising this season. Make sure you know which shoes to wear with black tie. Learn the answers to such difficult questions as ‘to cummerbund or not to cummerbund’? What about a waistcoat? And does velvet ever work?

Let Austin Reed guide you with its Black Tie Directory and you won’t set a handsomely shod foot wrong.

Institute members (ladies, too!) are sent regular offers and discounts on Austin Reed clothing and accessories as part of their member benefits package, so do check your email or use the attached MEMBER VOUCHER when shopping at Austin Reed.