Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure - 2020 Edition

Diversity and inclusion have been moving up the boardroom agenda within hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) for several years. So, are employees feeling the benefits? To find out, we once again joined forces with WiHTL and The MBS Group.

We surveyed 1500 hospitality sector employees

A first for the Report

The 2020 Report, in collaboration with WiHTL and The MBS Group focuses on two key areas of the diversity and inclusion journey: Gender and Race and Ethnicity. It explores progress made by companies across the sector both in terms of increasing the percentage of women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees at senior leadership level as well as making meaningful changes towards creating a diverse and inclusive organisational culture.

In addition to the two key areas of Gender and Race and Ethnicity, the research explores broader aspects of diversity and inclusion, including LGBTQ+, disability, nationality, age and social mobility.

For the first time, the Report includes the findings of an extensive survey conducted by PwC of more than 1,500 people working at all levels of the HTL industry. In a picture that combines important strides in some areas and frustration with the slow pace of change in others, we explore what diversity and inclusion look like from the employee’s eye view.

Sector continues to make real strides

2019’s edition painted a fairly positive outlook for the industry, and this message continues in 2020’s report, with the sector making progress on gender and ethnic diversity as witnessed across all headline figures. Female and BAME representation at each of the most senior levels has increased - Board (up 5.3% for women / 4.6% BAME), Executive Committee (up 1.8% for women / 1.4% BAME), and Direct Reports (Up 1.7% for women / 1.1% BAME), demonstrating that real action has been taken at scale across the UK. If this current rate of progress continues, then the sector as a whole will reach its target of having 33% female representation across all three leadership levels by the end of 2021.

An impressive 80% of companies in the HTL sector - nearly double that of an adjacent sector, have also adopted a coordinated diversity and inclusion strategy, again illustrating real momentum that needs to be built upon.

Female and BAME representation has increased
74% believe that their colleagues treat everyone fairly and with respect

Employees fuel promising signs

Our survey reveals an encouraging level of commitment to diversity and inclusion within the industry, with a third of employees (35%) reporting that a commitment to diversity and inclusion is one of their organisation’s stated values, while a further 22% feel that this is a high priority area, even if it’s not a stated value.

Other promising signs include the strong sense of mutual support with nearly three-quarters (74%) of employees believing their colleagues demonstrate a commitment to treating everyone fairly and with respect, while 33% believe that diversity and inclusion in their organisations have got better in the past 12 months.


More work needed

Despite promising signs, in a number of critical areas ranging from training and communication to creating a more diverse leadership pipeline, most HTL organisations are falling short in employees’ eyes. Nearly two-thirds of employees (65%) don’t see any improvement in diversity and inclusion (D&I) in their organisation over the past 12 months, while only 23% report that their organisations have programmes in place to recruit diverse candidates. The big question being asked by employees appears to be how far and how fast these good intentions are being translated into real benefits on the ground.

65% said there had been no D&I improvements

Turning good intentions into practical progress

Our research has identified four key areas of focus in an effort to turn good intentions into practical progress:

1. Training

Only 12% of employees report that their organisations offer training in how to overcome unconscious bias, while only 16% report that their organisation offers training on developing an inclusive style of leadership. Training can be a real eye opener for employees in raising awareness and changing attitudes, so it’s imperative that this is recognised further within the industry.

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2. Data

Limited collection of data in areas such as ethnicity (32% collect data), disability (34%), sexual orientation (16%) and educational background (33%) raises concerns over how intentions are being translated into action on the ground. We hope these findings will spur more organisations to collect and analyse their data, allowing them to identify issues in need of attention, track performance and drive improvement.

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3. Leader communication

Only 36% of employees who receive communication from their leaders about diversity report that they make regular communications that focus on diversity and inclusion, while 19% feel their leaders never communicate about diversity. As the face of the organisation, senior leaders can add huge impetus and credibility to diversity and inclusion strategies by communicating on progress, explaining why it might not be happening in some areas and charting the road ahead.

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4. Commercial opportunity

Barely one in ten employees (11%) report that the primary objective of their organisations’ diversity and inclusion programme is to achieve business results. In our view, this is a missed opportunity. Looking at diversity and inclusion through a commercial as well as talent lens can help your business to get closer to customers, tap into underserved markets and keep one step ahead of fast-shifting consumer demand.

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Contact us

Jon Terry

People and Organisation Consulting Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 7720 555 397

Lisa Hooker

Leader of Industry for Consumer Markets, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 7802 882 562

David Trunkfield

Hospitality and Leisure Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 7764 235 446

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