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Investigations into the gender pay gap issue has shown the hospitality sector is leaps and bounds ahead of other industries.

Jane Sunley, CEO and founder of Purple Cubed says “hospitality is way ahead of many other industries when it comes to the gender pay gap.  Overall, the median hourly rate paid to women is 1% lower than that paid to men across the sector, far below the national average of 9.7%.”

But despite the figure-grabbing headlines, it is widely acknowledges that there is still sufficient ground work to be done -particularly in relation to the representation of women in more senior roles. Five guys’ Gender Pay Gap from 2017 (they are yet to submit their 2018 report), declares only 34.2% of females fell into their top quarter percentile compared to 65.8% of their male employees.

For the first time, employers with excess of 250 employees are legally obliged to publish gender pay gap data, with 553 businesses within the hospitality industry filing.

Whitbread’s Gender Pay Gap Report for 2018 states that 66% of all their hourly paid employees are women and 51% of all salaried employees are also women, however only 28% of their senior leadership roles belong to women. InterContinental Hotels Group Gender Pay Gap Report of 2018 cites “whilst the employee population is broadly balanced in terms of the number of female and male employees, our gender pay and bonus gaps reflect the fact that in our UK corporate offices, we have a proportionately higher representation of men in senior roles and women in junior roles.”

Gordon Ramsay Restaurants declared that their lower quartile held 37.3% females, but their top quartile has only 20.6% females, with a difference of hourly pay rate sees men on up 13.5% more than their male counterparts.

But what about bonuses? Wagamama’s GPG reports “the mean + median bonus pay calculations relate to any bonuses that were paid in the reporting period of 06 April 2017 + 05 April 2018. in this period 28.8% of men and 23.6% of women received a bonus.” They attribute this to a lower number of females working in bonus eligible positions, the median bonus gap is 20% in favour of men, the mean was -37.7% in favour of women

Jane believes the increased transparency around the gap will bring about much-needed change and says, “the goal should be to create as much equality as possible and all businesses should be continuing to address this issue. A gender balance in this sector makes sense, especially as women make up 70% of all travel buying decisions, two-thirds of travellers, and 54% of the affluent traveller market [Travel Weekly]. Women make up over 60% of the hospitality workforce yet only 10% of board positions are held by women [Aethos] so we could certainly improve on that figure.”

 Jane adds, “this is about ‘the best person for the job’ though, rather than quotas. Numerous studies prove that a more diverse workforce, particularly at senior levels, has financial benefits. Diverse boards are more varied in their thinking and decision-making and bring fresh perspectives, creativity and innovation to the table. They have better consumer understanding and leading to better decisions. It’s not just about balancing the numbers, it’s about improving businesses performance.”

Within its report the business said: “Our gender pay gap is primarily as a result of the large proportion of males working within the group which is typical within a hospitality industry.

This is evident with such departments as kitchen and bar being heavily driven by male applicants, which restricts the pool of employees available for us to recruit from.

Jane proposes her strategy on closing the gender pay gap:

  • Review your current status and set some goals around improving the balance
  • Review your hiring processes to ensure all sexes have equal opportunities
  • Review your internal development and career planning. For example, ensure that all team members have opportunities to discuss their aspirations and career goals (digital systems make this easy and employee-led)
  • Make development available to all as and when they need it (just in time, bite-sized and on demand)
  • Be prepared to be flexible about the way people work
  • Develop people at all levels through aspiring leadership programmes.