Promoting Gender Equality in Hospitality

By Lisa Cain Assistant Professor, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, FIU | March 11, 2018

Co-authored by Miranda Kitterlin, Associate Professor, Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, FIU

Roughly fifty years after the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by Congress to protect women from discrimination in the workplace, females currently represent the majority of the workforce in both academia and industry in the hospitality and tourism management field (1) (Bailey & Hubbard, 2005). "It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees because of their gender. Every individual in this country is allowed to go to work and have equity in the workplace. Every individual is allowed to have the same standards applied to them"- Therese Lawless(2) (Bowles, 2015)

And yet, there still exists the proverbial 'glass ceiling' that hinders career advancement for women in the hospitality and tourism management workplace(3) (Nupur, Deepa & Khimya, 2013; (4) Stephen, Isaac, George, & Dominic, 2014; (5) Wan, 2014). The impact of this glass ceiling phenomenon may negatively affect the hospitality and tourism industry in two ways: it may inhibit the more qualified and competent candidate from progressing in the organization, and it may ultimately make the organization less successful(6) (Crafts & Thompson, 1997). A recent article in Esquire even pointed to the inequalities for women in hospitality based on the perception that they are less profitable to invest in, have smaller profiles than males, receive less accolades and rewards than their male counterparts, and are reviewed less often and less favorably than men in media outlets(7) (Cohen, 2017). 

In better news, there are active programs throughout the industry that may help ensure women are promoted in an equitable manner, based on qualifications. Additionally, there are measures that exist to enable women to obtain the qualifications necessary to help them advance in the industry. To aid in the success of these programs, there should be steps in place to address issues that plague females regarding upward mobility. Specifically, what training options, educational courses, and mentoring programs are being made available and equally across genders?  While the answers to these questions may vary from one organization to another, there are some general recommendations that can be embraced across the hospitality industry. 

Promotions - Or Lack Thereof

It has been suggested in both academic literature and association investigations that a promotion initiative may increase female advancement in the workplace. There are a number of reports that men are more likely than women to ask for promotions, many which suggest that men speak about their performance, versus a female approach of letting performance speak for itself.  We do know, however, that a larger number of promotions are granted to those who actually ask for them. There are two ways to treat this issue. The first solution to this problem may be achieved by females seeking out promotions rather than waiting for an opportunity to present itself. Ladies, do ask for that promotion-know that you deserve it. 

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.