Female Hospitality Leaders: Climbing the Ladder in a #MeToo World
By Miranda Kitterlin-Lynch, Ph.D. Associate Professor & Coca-Cola Endowed Professor, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, FIU | April 28, 2019
This article was co-authored by Lisa Cain, Assistant Professor, Florida International University
I recently ran into a former hospitality student who was working at a cell phone store. This was surprising to me, as she had been an exceptional student, and I knew from conversations that she had previously worked in a luxury lodging property, with aspirations for eventual promotion into management. What really stood out was the level of passion she had for her job, and for the industry, so finding her in this workplace setting left me eager to inquire as to the reason for the change.
I wish I could say that her story was novel, or surprising.
My former student, we'll call her Jane, was excelling in her position, and was on track to achieve all of her career goals. This was until she began being harassed by a male co-worker. I will not provide details, but the male co-worker's behavior made Jane so uncomfortable that she went to her direct supervisor three times to discuss it.
The supervisor responded by attempting to schedule them on opposite shifts, telling Jane to ignore the behavior, and asking Jane if she would prefer to transfer to a different department or property. None of these options appealed to Jane, who just wanted to come to work and do well at a job she loved.
At this point you may be asking yourself: Why didn't she go to human resources?
This is what I asked Jane. Her reply was that she feared retaliation from her supervisor, who had made it clear that he was not going to pursue the issue in a formal manner. Her concern was that he would make her work life even more uncomfortable, or that he may even deny that she had come to him with her complaints.