Money raised for the Castell Project’s “Ladder Up” campaign will go to support its leadership programs for women in the hospitality industry as well as research.

FOR MORE THAN three years now the Castell Project has sought to give women a leg up in the hospitality industry. Now it’s offering them a ladder.

The organization announced this week its “Ladder Up” campaign to raise $1 million to support programs that help women advance their careers. That includes participation for women in Castell leadership development programs at all levels, driving awareness of the need for gender diversity and engagement in the hospitality industry and research, including Castell Project’s annual report.

“While myriad international studies show that companies with gender diverse leadership drive higher profits, female representation at the higher levels of the hospitality industry is lacking,” said Castell Project founder and President Peggy Berg.  “The Castell Project is taking active steps towards seeing women hold a minimum of one in three leadership positions, including ownership, at all levels of the hospitality industry.  These funds will be used to help women climb the corporate ladder as we reach for this goal.”

To get the campaign started, Hilton has signed on as the lead sponsor with a $100,000 donation to launch the campaign.

“We are committed to supporting, promoting and increasing diversity in the hospitality industry and excited to continue the work we’re doing through our partnership with the Castell Project,” said Dianna Vaughan, Hilton’s senior vice president and global head of All Suites brands.

“Ladder Up” is seeking donations between $5,000 and $100,000 and will recognize sponsors through various mediums, including website and campaign materials promotion.

Berg started the Castell Project after traveling the country to various seminars and business events, only to find a lack of fellow women. The project offers a select group of female hospitality executives to undertake a program that improves their ability to advance their career, and the most recent version of the leadership study underscored the need for it.

“While the discourse is improving we have quite a way to go to achieve equitable opportunity for women in upper leadership,” Berg said regarding the report’s findings.  “For example, women are about half of director-level employees in hotel companies, but females make up only one in 22 CEOs and one in nine presidents.  There clearly is a disconnect where highly competitive women are not being considered for promotion.”

According to the report, women fill 11 percent of hotel company leadership positions including managing director and president, and their low representation on upper management levels is due in part to a lack of promotion and also to the fact that women often do not yet lead hotel development projects or hotel ownership groups.