What do the following women have in common? They are all Top Level Executive Executives in some of the world’s most prestigious and lucrative companies.
- Alison Gilbert – HR Director – CH&Co
- Amanda Wills – Director – Virgin Vacations
- Angela Brav, CEO of Europe for InterContinental Hotels Group
- Angela Brave – Chief Executive – IHG
- Hemma Varma – Leadership Role – Marriott
- Kathleen Taylor – CEO – Four Seasons
- May Wu – Chief Strategy Officer-Home Inns & Hotels Management
- Nancy Johnson – Executive VP of Development for Carlson Hotels
This list shows that there is no glass ceiling for women as a hospitality manager. In fact, 33% of all management positions in the hospitality industry are held by women. These include six-figure jobs: Director of Sales, Director of Housekeeping, Food and Beverage Director and Director of Human Resources.
Where is the Glass Ceiling for Women in Management and Director Jobs?
This question is becoming vaguer with the passing of time. The answer lies in the management candidate. What are you willing to sacrifice? Are you a risk taker? How much are you willing to invest in your Career. These questions
While most women do not want these jobs, there are many women who hold management and director jobs in the hospitality industry. Here is a quick look at some of the realities women need to face to reach their dream job.
Take the Competitive Track
Women can get to the top. Like men, they get the best education they can and then hopscotch their way to the top. Over 20% of women who run fortune five hundred companies started working in the companies they eventually ran, like Mary Barra. She started as a co-op student. Kathleen Massarella started in customer service at Graybar. 30 years later she was CEO.
Whether you move up a company ladder or make a lateral move, the average time it takes a woman to reach the top level is 23 years. Men, on the other hand, have a median of 15 years at a company. Women are also more likely to be promoted if they move up in one business.
This means that while moving from job to job, always moving up is statistically a good move for men, it will only work 50% of the time for a professional woman.
This also means that women looking for executive jobs are a recruiter’s dream. A recruiter’s reputation is built on putting the best talent into prime jobs, and having that talent stay long enough for the company to recoup their hiring costs and make a profit. Statistically, this makes women a solid choice for executive jobs that need long-term employees.
When it comes right down to it, top companies are more concerned with black and red on balance sheets than gender.
It’s about Confidence and Ambition
Do we create our own ceiling? The answer appears to be yes. Executive and leadership coaches agree that the women either lose confidence or become settled, in mid-career. They lose their ambition and stop fighting for the top spot. Whether they’ve been passed over one too many times, or they don’t have the drive. The onus is completely on them for the direction their future career takes.
This is why it is so important to have a team working for you. The catch-22 is that when you lose your ambition you stop competing. Your portfolio suffers in those last 2 – 5 years on the job. If you do need to move to another company your resume will reveal the lack of ambition.
There is the issue of emotional tax for professionals of minorities. This emotional tax can negatively impact health and confidence. This issue needs to be addressed at a personal level.
It’s About Location
Family and Familiarity can hold women back. There is a global world out there, especially in the hospitality industry. Any problems you face concerning gender, race, religion, may be moot in another area of the globe.
There is also the issue of markets overwhelmed with talent. The ceiling may be lower, and thicker in these areas. A willingness to relocate can make all the difference in your career opportunities.
There are opportunities to move to another country, or area within this country, and make less. But, with a lower cost of living the end result is more wealth building power.
It’s About Realistic Expectations
You are not going to land a Top Level Executive or hospitality manager job before you are 35. But you should have a management or director’s job. You are not going to land one if you job hop. There are some realities that you need to accept if you want a job in the six-figure range.
While an Ivy league education is not necessary, you will not become CEO of a luxury hotel chain without an academic background. It is very important to assess your strengths and weaknesses over several months, and then take them to a mentor, a coach, or a recruiter. Be willing to hear some hard truths and some facts that are going to hurt.
Every choice we make in life has a consequence. We live in a ‘me’ generation where everyone wants to explore their own path. And, for most of us, it is possible, but that doesn’t mean there will not be consequences. You can explore the world for five years in your early 20s, but those years are lost. Unless you can throw 110% into a study and are willing to take some big risks, you will not regain those years.
It’s Not About Age – It Is About Looks
Most women who advance to the executive management positions are 45 or older. This is not a job you age out of but grow into. However, if you take a hard look at the women in the top positions then appearance does matter. Beauty, Fitness, and Grooming give an impression of competence, confidence, and control.
It’s Not About Education
Only 2 women currently running Fortune 500 companies have undergraduate degrees from an Ivy League institution. Even when you compare genders, only 4% of men have Ivy league educations. Many of the hospitality management and director jobs do not require an education, but you do need skills.
Only 25% of women and 16% of men hold an MBA from one of the top-ten schools. Not a prerequisite.
This means that when it comes to C-level education experience trumps education. Hypothetically it can mean that an Ivy League education may lock you into an executive position – where you will be most effective.
It’s About Being a Woman
In the end, your ticket to the top could be the one thing you feel is holding you back, your gender. Women earn money. Women spend money. Women are not satisfied with ‘good enough.’ If top companies want to tap into the tremendous spending power of women then they need to understand what women want. And to learn that, you need to view the world as a woman.