International Women’s Day: 3 steps to more women in leadership

Iceland made an amazing step forward when it made equal pay between men and women a legal requirement, effectively putting “equal pay day” on December 31, 2018. This is a great example of pioneering legislation at a time when in Europe women are on average paid 16% less than men.

The economic and business case for gender equality is now overwhelming. Evidence is mounting that having more women in the boardroom and senior management positions is positive for the bottom line and for society.

Various papers have proven the importance of practicing balanced leadership in companies. McKinsey’s annual “Women Matter” report has demonstrated that a mind-blowing US$12 trillion could be added to the global economy by closing the gender gap in employment and found a strong correlation between the presence of women in companies’ top management and better financial results.

Following a meticulous analysis of 300 companies around the world, McKinsey found a difference in return on equity of 47% between the companies with the most women on their executive committees and those with none, and a 55% difference in operating results.

Having more women in government has a social benefit, too, because women often have different priorities. For instance, one cross-country study found that greater representation of women in parliaments led to higher expenditure on education as a share of GDP.

Within hospitality, there are many talented women, but sadly they are still lacking in numbers as hotel general managers or in corporate leadership roles, especially those focused on operations, technical services or business development.

I believe the following the following three actions lead to more inclusive and balanced leadership:

Consistent tone from the top and CEO involvement. As proven by McKinsey’s 2016 report, consistent and persistent support from the CEO is essential to achieve success.

Ask to be at the table. When I look back at the journey of Responsible Business and my own progression in the company since I joined, a pivotal moment was asking for (and being granted) a seat at the regular operations leadership meetings.

Networking and cooperation. I’m a firm believer of the power of networking, a skill that women should practice more. Opportunities arise from cooperation, exchanging ideas and knowing people you can trust. So, who’s with me to build a network of Leading Women in Hospitality!

If you’re curious to find out where your organization stands on gender equality, take the United Nation’s test.