As a founding member of the Leading Ladies of London, one of my missions is to bring more female leaders into the hospitality industry and motivate them to use all their potential to make it to the top.
This is, first of all, something I am personally pursuing in the hotel I am managing. At Dukes, 70% of the staff are women, and nine of our 16-member management team are women. We definitely have a passion for young and strong ladies keen to start a professional career in the exciting world of hospitality!
I want to share with you something that happened recently at Dukes. Our Dukes Bar is famous for the exquisite and more-than-strong Martinis that our head barman Alessandro Palazzi and his team blend in the most delicious way. But what is bizarre is that in Dukes Bar’s 100-year history, it has always been an all-boys’ brigade! No female has ever been recruited to work in the bar. However, if you think about that, it’s actually only in recent times that the number of women approaching the bartender job has increased.
Personally, I think the main reason behind this is that the bartender job has always been associated with a man-tailored job. If you look back in history to the 19th century, for instance, you will discover that actually quite a few women used to work in old taverns where lower- and middle-class gentlemen used to gather to get totally and awfully wasted. Was perhaps this the reason that later on women walked away from this profession? After all, what woman would be thrilled with dealing with drunk men? Or perhaps men wanted to claim back their very own profession and banned women from pouring whiskeys and grogs.
Times have changed, and today one is more likely to see a lady shaking cocktails, reshaping in this way the traditional concept of bartending. Indeed, we can see more and more women snatching up the bartending profession from the proud and vigorous hands of men to make this a career for themselves, and we also have some fabulous female sommeliers in our industry.
At Dukes Bar, Maria Antonietta recently joined the bar’s team, becoming the first woman to ever be recruited there. Since the first day, Maria Antonietta showed her enthusiasm for her role, and her excellent customer care skills are proving to be a great addition to the team.
Every business benefits from the presence of female staff, and in the hotel industry as well as in other businesses, it’s important to offer equal opportunities regardless of gender. At Dukes we always try to break biases in roles that can be male-dominated, and we are really keen to bring our women forward, building their confidence in the workplace.