This week, I encourage you to think about issues affecting women in your workplaces and what you’re doing to speak up for those who are vulnerable.
Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and quite a few friends asked me whether I was going to participate in the “day without a woman” movement by striking and not going to work.
Nope. I came to work.
Personally, my own preference usually is to show support FOR a cause, rather than strike AGAINST another. So I interpreted International Women’s Day as a way to support the workplace that supports me, and celebrate the atmosphere I’ve had a hand in creating at Hotel News Now—one that supports equality and transparency for everyone, regardless of gender.
So I came to work, and for this week’s blog, I wanted to spend a little extra time thinking about what it means to be a woman in this industry, and shed light on some issues that tend to affect women more than men.
First, I will give thanks for the fact that I work for a company (led by a female president and CEO!) that promotes equality and a positive, inclusive culture for all.
But of course I’ve worked in environments that aren’t like that. Places where I was treated like a secretary because of my gender. Places where I knew I was making less money than men I outranked in title and experience. Places where I was denied promotions to positions vacated by men whose job I already was doing because, as my boss at the time put it, “we want to keep you right where you are.” (At the time, I really fought back the urge to respond, “And where is that, exactly? In the kitchen?”)
And that’s nothin’.
A lot of that stuff still happens in workplaces, subtly and overtly. I’m lucky I can speak up for myself when things like this happen without risk of being fired, but many vulnerable women cannot, and we must do it for them.
Today, I’d like to briefly mention three issues that have a particular impact on women in the hotel industry, simply as a quick way to remind you to think about them, too.
Most hotel housekeepers are women; much evidence exists that shows these women face more examples of sexual and verbal harassment and other safety issues than do employees in other roles around the hotel. That’s just the truth. This is disgusting, and it’s unacceptable. Whether it occurs at management level in a hotel or at a brand, It is absolutely your responsibility to advocate for these women, protect them and give them resources. Value them above your guests. Here’s an interesting article from Seattle Weekly on the topic.
Another truth—hotels are common venues for human trafficking, much of which involves women, often minors. Train yourselves and your employees to recognize the signs that human trafficking is happening at your property. Get information. Partner with organizations like the AHLEI, S.O.A.P. and countless others that provide education and resources to help you fight this problem on the frontlines.
This issue certainly isn’t one of life or death, but it’s important. There are plenty of women employed at high levels in the hospitality industry, but we don’t see that many of them in visible roles, speaking on stage at major conferences, representing the industry internationally. So I say to conference organizers: Look beyond the typical lineup of CEOs and “conference circuit regulars” that show up on every panel and find some new voices. And I say to female leaders in the industry: Get out there and promote yourselves in a visible role. Show young women entering the industry that they can do it, and act as an example. Go on—Nancy Johnson and Niki Leondakis it up (Yes, I’m using those women as verbs. They deserve it.).
Thanks for reading, and I hope you do consider these issues this week. Let me know what you think. Let me know in the comments below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @HNN_Steph.
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