“We in this room all understand that the promotion of women to a rightful place of equality in the labour market is no kind of positive discrimination but a sensible choice, to utilise the skills that women possess is a win-win situation for all concerned.
“And on that note it is my real pleasure to commend the work of Women 1st as an important step towards achieving these goals.“
Cherie Blair, speaking at the Women 1st launch event
“Recognising the need for more women to progress to senior management positions, and overcoming the barriers preventing them from doing so, is critical.
“Through the Women 1st programme, we have a real opportunity to address the problem head-on by building on international best practice that provides practical solutions for individuals and businesses in our sector.”
Natalie Bickford, HR director UK and Ireland, Sodexo Ltd and Women 1st chair
“Over 50% of the people who work for leisure or hospitality organisations are women, but very few make it to senior positions let alone to company boards.
“This isn't because they lack the skills, motivation or tenacity but because there aren't enough senior roles that offer them the flexibility they need. This new initiative by Women 1st is exactly the kind of forward thinking approach we should all encourage.
“By offering more support to women through mentoring schemes and career development initiatives I hope we can start to address the gender balance across the sector, helping women achieve their potential. “That's not just better for women, but it's good for the industry. “
Margaret Hodge MP, former minister for culture, media and sport
“I wanted to be a chef at the age of 12 and was inspired by my great grandmother who was head-cook at a Victorian household. She taught my grandmother who in turn taught my mother.
"I've also been lucky enough to have some great mentors over the years to guide me through my career. It was this level of support that made a crucial difference to me. It is a shame that most women in our sector don't have that level of support. That this is why the Women 1st initiative is an invaluable lifeline to us all.”
Lesley Waters, TV chef and author
“This is a truly inspired initiative as the gender gap amongst chefs needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. This programme is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the importance of attracting women into the trade whilst helping those already in our sector to progress and take up more senior roles.
“Britain is due to host the Olympics in two years and the hospitality sector has a crucial role to play, therefore we cannot afford to lose talent.”
Michael Caines, chef and director, ABode Hotels and Michael Caines Restaurants
“We have had 12 women from ABode Hotels take up the Women 1st programmes and we are already noticing the benefits. The course has instilled confidence in them to know that they can realise their ambitions in the hospitality sector.
“Joining forces with Women 1st has been a huge success to ABode Hotels.”
Ros Young, HR director, ABode Hotels
“This is exactly what the industry needs. As I attend quite a lot of conferences, I see first-hand the lack of women in senior positions in the industry.
“This glass ceiling needs to be shattered and Women 1st can help a lot of women in the industry to aim higher. It is an initiative that enables women to share and discuss theirexperiences so they can solve problems with helpful input from likeminded men and women.”
Avril Owton MBE, owner, The Cloud Hotel