Balancing act

Balancing act

I read a thought-provoking article the other day that addressed the imbalance of women and men in the U.S. Congress. As the article states, “Despite representing 51% of the country, women account for just 16.6% of Congress — 17 of the 100 seats in the Senate, 72 of the 435 seats in the House.” The writer, a man, discusses the neurological differences in sexes and how women are “naturally hardwired to be better communicators, more creative problem solvers and in moments of stress, less likely to walk out of meetings” than men.
It got me thinking about the hospitality industry and how I have happily started to notice that more and more women in the hospitality businesses are at the upper reaches of management — at Four Seasons, InterContinental Hotels and Kimpton, to name a few. I have also noticed that they frequently take a more reasoned view of both business and people management than some of my male cohorts. 

Similarly, whether you’ve ever worked in a kitchen or have watched any number of the many reality cooking shows, you may have noticed things heating up with high levels of testosterone coming out as celebrity and up-and-coming chefs “battle it out.” While I do think the number of women working in commercial kitchens is on the rise, the percentages are similar to that seen in the U.S. Congress (13% women in the executive chef category, according to a slashfood article written last year). As a general observation of mine, chefs — as artists — are hard-wired to be creative “right-brains” and therefore may be unpredictable and sometimes volatile. In my experience, I have yet to see a woman storm out of a kitchen or lose her temper on an employee. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, or that all men do, but I think in any business it is important to keep a diversified staff to yield the best results, especially when it comes to upper-level managers, who must be both analytical and sensitive to everyone’s needs.

Is our business evolving to meet the requirements of culture and society, or are we just realizing that balance is a better business practice?