Is There Room for Women In the Hospitality Industry

By: Meena Bhatia,Vice President & General Manager of Le Meridien New Delhi

Any conversation on “Women advocacy”  generally tends to talk about the varied roles a women plays, how she is multi faceted, how she juggles between the roles of a mother, a daughter, a sister, a daughter in law, a wife and so on.

And as if that is not enough, let me give you a short narrative on the roles played by women in our business. So here shesteps into an array of functionalities, where she plays the role of a psychologist, a nurse, a drunk person hauler, a marriage counsellor, a baby sitter, an Indian matchmaker, a healer, a butler, an actor, a tour guide, a care giver, a dress designer; but above all she graciously plays the role of an ambassador of our industry and of course the destinations that she promotes. You would question me to say, do only women in the hospitality do this? I say no, equally versatile are our male counterparts, but women have the ease of building friendships and relationships as they communicate with power and composure, are collaborative and above all they are naturally gifted with high level of tolerance, empathy and humanity.

This is what makes the hospitality professionals into a complete a human being and as a matter of fact,the real truth is that our story is not about ourselves, it is built up by the innumerable experiences, multiple people who come and go, and all this leaves behind indelible impressions, vivid enough for memories, igniting a new perspective, a thought provoking idea, an inspiration, each of which stimulates and perfects the “Art of Hospitality” within us.

So, is Hospitality industry a good career choice for women in the future?

Hospitality industry very evidently is a career that grows you overall, both personally and professionally, a workplace that drives excellence and competence, imparts life skills, evokes critical thinking and shapes both your attitude and aptitude. For women, I may add that it is a place that allows us to shine and grow by the sheer virtue of our prowess. While the industry employs larger number of women as compared to other industries, unfortunately we are badly outnumbered in leadership roles. The invisible gender bias, inflexible hours and career and home imbalances are the obvious reasons, but more than that it is the male dominated industry culture that needs a correction.

Hospitality industry is poised to play a significant role in the economic growth of nations around the globe. The Industry, which has proved its resilience, showcased its flexibility and agility in these last two years of the pandemic,certainly exudes the courage and energy to be future ready. It would not be out of place to say that the hospitality industry is going through a phase of revolution and its advancement towards being a robust and sophisticated career domain. At this stage the industry leaders are certainly looking at diversity and inclusivity as an instrument of growth. The contribution of women to the industry is already a well-established truth, but I want to draw your attention to the future of our business. I see the need to reshape the industry’s perception from a “Male Dominated” culture to a “Women Centric Business”. The change has already begun and I see it advancing towards its goals, very speedily and steadily.

So if you are at the start of a career in hospitality or are on the threshold of a career choice, do evaluate your skills and potential for the  Hospitality Industry, for it has stood the test of time and promises you a journey of  multi dimensional development and progression of self-growth and self-pride. But yes, if you want to begin your romance with hospitality, do know that it is a serious business and not just a mere playground of glamour.

 However, do take cognizance of the fact that we are only at a very nascent stage of breaking the gender favouritism, and that our industry still bears the brunt of the under-representation of women in leadership roles. The journey for you may still be rough and challenging, but we are setting the stage for the extraordinary presence many more women in positions of power. It will be an opportunity for you to unlock your potential and thereby contribute towards this transformation. Now is the chance for you to explore your inner belief of finding an equal space for women at all levels, stay determined, and leverageyour inner strength and influence.

I encourage the emerging women leaders of today to believe in themselves and aspire to reach their fullest potential. I am also equally passionate about bringing about this change that will allow women more power and resolve to succeed. 

I say this, with all my conviction, that my journey of four decades in the industry has been more than I could dream of. It has made me the person that I could have never been, taught me life lessons that I would have never known, allowed me to unleash my creativity with no boundaries, and above all made me an explorer and a traveler. I would have never seen the world with diverse cultures and people, as I have through the lens of a hospitality professional.

Let us, therefore take this as an opportunity to celebrate and nurture the diversity in the hospitality industry and continue to champion the cause that men and women both are driving the advancement of the industry and leading it to be stronger, versatile, more colorful and relevant.