Women held 8 percent of hospitality industry leadership positions in 2019, according to the Castell Project’s third annual Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership report. That includes seven women promoted to CEO in 2018 and 2019, a 20 percent increase.

WOMEN ARE MAKING progress in the U.S. hospitality industry, according to the Castell Project’s third annual Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership report.  More women are in leadership roles and making presentations at hotel investment conferences, according to the Project, a not-for-profit that promotes women in the industry.

Women held 8 percent of hospitality industry leadership positions in 2019, according to the report, including managing director, president, partner, principal and CEO. Seven women were promoted to CEO in 2018 and 2019, according to data from the STR Directory of Hotel & Lodging Companies, a 20 percent increase in the number of female CEOs in the dataset.

Last year’s report found a shortage of women in upper management and CEO positions.

“Even though a great deal of distance still needs to be covered to reach true gender parity, we were delighted to find the pendulum starting to swing in the proper direction,” said Peggy Berg, president of Castell Project, Inc.  “We are seeing an acceleration of women in leadership roles across the political, civic and business spectrum.  This is supported by the pipeline of graduates coming out of colleges and universities, by the strong and deep bench of female talent currently at work in numerous industries, including hospitality, by the opportunities created as baby boomers retire, by the share of wealth now controlled by women and by widespread interest among both men and women in realizing the benefits of this cultural shift.”

Other findings from the report include:

  • One in four presenters at hotel investment conferences in 2019 was a woman, up from one in eight in 2016.
  • Accounting, human resources, legal, marketing and revenue management continued to see the most representation of women in leadership roles. Improvement was seen in operations and asset management representation at the vice president level with improvement expected at the executive vice president and senior vice president levels. Information technology and investment-related fields still are skewed toward men.
  • Women comprise 21 percent of investment conference attendees, nearly flat for the past four years. Brokerage, finance and construction continue to have few women at the vice president and director levels.

“It is heartening to have the statistical information that demonstrates companies are beginning to take notice that gender diversity is good for the bottom line,” Berg said.  “However, the Castell Project is nowhere near its goal of seeing women in more than one of three C-suite positions in every major hospitality organization. Research continues to prove that companies with greater gender diversity are more profitable and often can approach new issues and opportunities with a fresher perspective made up of many differing voices.”

In January, the Castell Project began accepting nominations for its 2020 Castell Leadership Programs, which have been expanded to differentiate between participants based on their experience in the industry.