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Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020 Review - 2019 Edition

At the start of 2018, women made up only 26% of senior management positions in the sector. Has the industry moved the diversity dial in the past year? We joined forces with WiH2020 and The MBS Group to find out.

Industry leaders speak up

The hospitality, travel and leisure sector is the 3rd largest private sector employer in the country, providing employment for 3.2 million people.* But how diverse and inclusive is the industry? And what is the female representation? This research is based on diversity data and interviews with the CEOs, Chairs and Human Resource leaders of 120 businesses across the sector, as well as data in the Hampton-Alexander review. Here’s what it found…

*Source: Kate Nicholls, CEO UKHospitality: Women in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure 2020 Review - 2019 Edition


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Sector making great strides

The percentage of women in board level positions at FTSE 100 hospitality, travel and leisure companies has increased to 32%, just short of the 33% Hampton-Alexander review target (female representation across FTSE 350 boards and executive committees by 2020) and up 3% from the beginning of 2018. And this year, for the first time, there are now no all-male FTSE 250 hospitality, travel and leisure boards.

Momentum being built in a sustainable way

The number of women who are direct reports into the executive committee is looking particularly promising at 36% across the whole sector, including both listed and non-listed businesses of scale. And a range of successful initiatives are being piloted and implemented across the sector.

Still a lot of work to do

Over the last year, the gap between companies performing well and those who still have a way to go has widened; 63% of FTSE 100 hospitality, travel and leisure companies have already hit the 33% target on boards, but the remaining 38% are not on track to reach it by the end of 2020. Currently, only a quarter of companies are at target for both board and executive committee / direct report measures. And women occupy just 10% of the CEO, CFO and Chair triumvirate in listed and non-listed companies.

How do companies outside the FTSE compare?

Despite there having previously been less public scrutiny, companies outside the FTSE compare well to the FTSE 250 when it comes to gender diversity of executive committees and their direct reports – though they lag behind at board level.

Looking beyond gender: BAME people under-represented

For the first time this year, this research has looked beyond gender and thrown light on the lack of ethnic diversity among the sector’s senior leaders. While 1 in 8 people of working age are from a BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) background in the UK, the research has found just 1 in 33 of hospitality, travel and leisure leaders (board, executive committee and direct reports) are. With the UK Government launching a consultation on mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting in October 2018, this is clearly an area that will increasingly be in the spotlight for businesses in the coming months and years.

Key findings

"To make real progress in diversity and inclusion, businesses need to elevate it onto the CEO’s agenda and align diversity & inclusion strategy to the fundamentals of the business."

Jon Terry, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting Leader at PwC

Explore key findings

The way forward: Building diversity into the business fundamentals

So how can businesses turn good intentions into practical progress? We’ve identified six key foundations for effective change:


1. Ensure alignment with business strategy

The strategy and underlying business case for promoting diversity and inclusion need to be aligned and measures supporting specific business priorities articulated.

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2. Have a clear direction, ownership and tone from the top

Executive teams set the tone for the organisation and ensure diversity and inclusion are recognised as business priorities. This requires more than just statements of intent. Give someone in the leadership team the job of making it happen and hold them to account.

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3. Set realistic objectives

Identify the headline diversity and inclusion objectives that are most important to your business and shortcomings most in need of addressing.

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4. Turn objectives into an action plan for delivery

Translate your headline objectives into an action plan that sets out measurable goals and how they will be achieved.

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5. What gets measured, gets done

To support the action plan there should be appropriate data, analytics and tracking to gauge progress, target intervention and drive accountability.

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6. Tell it how it is

Ensure transparent communications that don’t just publicise strengths but focus on plans for addressing deficiencies and progress too.

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Building on momentum through collaboration and a renewed focus

Through the Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020 initiative, over 50 of the largest employers in the sector have come together to share best practices, learn from each other and join resources to work on tangible actions aimed at making long-lasting impact in terms of diversity and inclusion. Companies have also signed The Diversity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure Charter to show their commitment to move the diversity and inclusion dial - visit the WiH2020 website to find out more and sign up to the charter.

“The number of organisations signing up to The Diversity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure Charter keeps growing and this report sheds light on some never seen before collaboration initiatives such as Comeback to HTL, the first ever women returners programme across the sector.”

Tea Colaianni, Chair of WiH2020


Contact us

Lisa Hooker

Lisa Hooker

Leader of Industry for Consumer Markets, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7802 882562

David Trunkfield

David Trunkfield

UK Hospitality, travel and leisure Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7764 235446

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