Industry research within the hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism industry proved to be a catalyst for the Women 1st programme.
In hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism (HLTT):
People 1st's ‘State of the Nation 2009' report highlighted that nearly 60% of the HLTT industry workforce are female yet very few are employed in senior positions. The proportion of female managers has dropped from 49% in 2004/2005 to 46%. Only 6% of hospitality company directors are women.
Whilst many women progress to supervisor or unit manager level, few are currently able to make the step up to the next level. Major employers have cited a steady decline in the number of women employed in area manager positions upwards.
Only 5 of the sector's FTSE 100 employers have female directors on their board, three of whom took up their positions last year.
Recent research by the University of Hertfordshire and talent management company, Shine People and Places, looked at why so few women are advancing into senior roles within the industry. Career breaks due to childbirth and childcare, and combining work with family and personal responsibilities were seen as the main explanatory factors for relative female under-representation.
In passenger transport:
- 78% of the sector's workforce is male and many core occupations are characterised by large gender imbalances. Possibly the most extreme example is that only 13 percent of those working in taxi and private hire operations are women whilst 79 percent of air travel assistants are female. Some roles are still mistakenly associated with a particular gender and the nature of some job roles does mean they are more attractive to men. Women 1st is trying to tackle this through programmes such as ‘Step on the Bus' – a training programme giving women the skills and confidence to become bus drivers.
- The sector employs far few people under 30 than across the UK economy as a whole and therefore is less attractive to young women looking to make the sector a career choice. Employers and sector commentators mention three factors to explain this: legislation (which places age restrictions for specific occupations), age barriers (many jobs in the sector are only attractive as a second or third career) and lack of career pathways (some industries are perceived as unattractive to young people).
Did you know...
- 40% of the industry's management vacancies were classed as hard to fill.
- Many women working part-time are working below their skills levels due to the limited availability of part-time/flexible work in more senior roles.
- A third of working mothers move down the career ladder after having children and 21% change employer within nine months of returning to work.
- The sector still struggles to attract the large number of undergraduates (women now account for 60% of the graduate base) who work in it casually into viewing HLTT as a career option on graduation.
- Within the HLTT sector, women make 83% of the spending decisions but are not represented in many of the senior positions within the industry.
- A number of research studies have shown that organisations with significant numbers of women in their senior teams do better on a number of organization performance measures, including innovation, good governance and financial results, relative to their sector competitors.
View the Women 1st fact sheet for more details.