By Hasnain Noorani
Delivering a workplace fit for the 21st Century, one which harnesses the power and potential of women, is not only the right thing to do but is good for business especially at this age and time when businesses are in a recovery trajectory after the wrath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The hospitality industry has been historically male dominated. But dynamics of corporate leadership are changing and despite facing challenges in the workplace and balancing personal lives, more women are breaking the glass ceiling by putting themselves forward for leadership roles. In PrideInn where I work, and in the wider hospitality chain, we are committed to promoting diversity and we have a strong desire to play a positive role in creating a more diverse, equal and inclusive society. We are convinced that the hospitality and travel industry has an amazing ability to bring people together from different backgrounds and break down cultural barriers.
Creating an inclusive and diverse work environment makes good business sense and is the right thing to do. Empirical studies clearly indicate that businesses that have more inclusive environments perform better and have stronger financial results. However, while trends are moving in the right direction, women’s access to leadership opportunities still remains a global challenge.
While Human Resource departments have an integral part to play, real change will only occur through a strong business strategy. This involves engaging champions across all levels, dedicating appropriate resources, setting priorities and targets and effectively embedding measures into performance management systems. Also, making these efforts transparent so we can create accountability for our successes and failures.
Hospitality businesses already offer a wealth of opportunities, but there is certainly more we can, and should, be doing. Female representation in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors at an executive level is still not good enough. Within PrideInn hotels, for instance, diversity and inclusion of female leaders in management are core parts of our business strategy and one of our key values. While each of our nine facilities in Mombasa and Nairobi has its own distinct strategy, PrideInn group has developed a diversity business case where equal gender representation is always considered.
Male business leaders in the industry need to continue nurturing and fostering strong leadership roles for women. This is especially important for the next generation of leaders to come. Placing women in high level leadership positions needs to become more than a standard, but a strong intent. As we continue to pave the path for women in leadership, it will become easier for future women leaders to follow.
From my observation, women tend to be more interactive, stimulating high-quality relationships, bonding, and bring connectivity among team members; while men are task-oriented and directive, providing direction for their employees. Gender diversity is a global trend in many industries, and it is proven that either gender can supplement each other. I have a strong belief that each individual has his/her own character and style regardless of gender.
It is true, that women and men have different characteristics. In my experience, mixed management teams are often the most successful. Women are usually focused on the well-being of their team so that it does the job well. Men usually make clearer announcements, are more contentious and are more in the foreground.
When there are strong women at the top of an organization, it attracts and inspires talented women. It is so important that women support each other and empower each other. It is important to have supportive men in leadership positions so as to attract like-minded people, regardless of gender.
According to a study conducted by Peterson Institute for International Economics and Ernst & Young suggest that companies with at least 30 percent women in leadership roles may boost their net profit margins by about 15 percent when compared to those with no female leaders.
The writer is the CEO and Founder of PrideInn Group of Hotels