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It’s no secret the hospitality industry is challenging: the need to consistently evolve and meet the needs of consumers is always present. Such change, growth, and evolution can only come from continuous improvement and collaboration. However, in spite the perception that this is a male-dominated sector, I have found myself being the oxymoron to that belief.
As a woman in this industry who is today the founder of a hospitality company, I have always chosen collaboration over competition. I strongly believe allyship with the opposite sex can act more as a benefit than a challenge. The shift from competition to collaboration is the key to success. With this alliance, mutual respect, solidarity, and understanding can take us further as opposed to competition and the hostility that it entails.
In my options, harnessing these partnerships aids in achieving key operational goals like the below:
An inclusive environment The goal should be to foster an equitable environment that can give individuals from all social groups the necessary tools to thrive professionally. Efforts to drive inclusion need to go beyond ensuring employees get identical conditions, rather than favorable conditions. This entails going beyond surface-level actions, and really understanding the needs of everyone, and what can help them flourish in such a rapidly advancing industry.
Building together (and overcoming criticism to grow) Rather than building something from enmity, creating from a place of mutual respect and coexistence can have a more lasting impact that extends to future generations. My company, Vivere Hospitality, has always challenged the core structure of this industry by championing these values, and creating a space that is favorable to all our stakeholders. Collaborators must also be willing to let go of the various biases that they have picked up, and they should ensure that they are open to constructive criticism and growth to operate as such. When done correctly, it could be illuminating to draw from each other’s experiences, and build a community that uplifts everyone.
An open forum Being open to conversations that challenge and address industry concerns can ensure better outcomes not only for organizations, but also in terms of the societal precedents it sets. Leaders must ensure that staff are treated fairly, rather than equally. This fairness can look like unbiased hiring practices, a genuine focus on diversity than tokenism, ensuring disputes are addressed fairly, etc. These practices can only succeed keeping collaboration and inclusivity in mind, rather than alienation.
Taking responsibility and ownership Fighting structural inequality can only take place through teamwork. Each one of us has a role in the reducing of the discriminatory practices while building a fair workplace. To support this, challenging our own biased beliefs, being open-minded to unfamiliar or novel concepts, to finding community and solidarity, are all simple steps we can take to change the perception of a male-dominated industry. In many ways, this is similar to how the world has adopted sustainability- everyone understands that they have a role in preserving the earth for future generations.
Solidarity among women Lastly, an important piece of this puzzle. Rather than operate from a hyper-competitive perspective, women should provide support to each other. It is important to learn from each other’s experiences, and to take note of the unique strengths that everyone brings. Over the past few decades, strides have been made to address various challenges unique to women working in the hospitality space to mitigate some of their effects. However, collaboration has proven to be the crucial step in bringing these efforts to fruition. Shared knowledge and experiences can help us further build the industry supporting its evolution and growth– a goal amongst us all.