Women remain underrepresented in UK's hospitality industry leadership

12 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Female engagement at the top level of the UK hospitality industry is still lagging, with the vast majority of decision-making roles continue to be held by men. Only 7% of the industry’s FTSE 350 CEOs are women; however, the pay gap in hospitality and leisure is far better than in other industries, at a median of approximately 7%.

The hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) sector is one of the UK’s largest employers, with 3.2 million people working in its segments. Despite a poor 2018 in terms of tightening consumer spending, the industry is still one of the top sectors in terms of economic activity, hitting £130 billion last year – besting the UK’s automotive, pharmaceutical and aeronautical sectors’ combined activities.

While the industry is one of the country’s largest employers, it still faces considerable issues around diversity at the top. New analysis from PwC has explored the matter, as well what initiatives the industry has engaged to open up its top ranks to a more diverse background.

Female representation at board level for UK companies and HTLs

According to a survey of CEOs, Chairs or HR Directors of over 100 of the most significant leisure businesses across the UK, the hospitality industry has a relatively male-dominated top level. This lags behind the FTSE 100, where companies have female board level representation at 32.2%. Meanwhile, the figure for the combined executive committee and direct reports stands at 28%. This is well above FTSE 250 levels, where female board level representation stands at 22.4% and executive committee & direct reports stand at 27.8%.

For the hospitality industry as a whole, board level representation came in at 23.6%, with FTSE 350 for the industry performing slightly better at 25.1%, while non-listed companies performed considerably worse at 18.2%. The firm notes that the figures hide that while some companies are making strides to improve equality, others are not moving forward – with the positive result reflecting more often the good work of some, while others are not taking the issue seriously in their agenda setting.

Blind spot

The study states, however, that while the overall numbers are relatively strong, the industry has a number of acute weaknesses. These include CEO numbers, with only 7% of HTL FTSE 350 companies helmed by women and 11% of non-listed companies led by female CEOs. Meanwhile, female chairs at FTSE 350 companies for the sector stand at zero. In terms of wider diversity representation, only 1 in 33 leaders at industry companies is from a BAME background.

Pay gap for HTL and hospitality

The report noted discrepancies between FTSE 100 companies and FTSE 250 in terms of improving the number of women at executive level. The majority have met the Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33% women at board level, up from around 25% in 2016. However, the remaining ~40% are not on target, and are unlikely to meet the target by 2020. A similar trend is noted when it comes to executive committee and direct reporting numbers.

Jon Terry, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting Leader at PwC, said, "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."

Tracking progress FTSE 250 level

However, one area where hospitality travel and leisure companies are outperforming other companies in the wider UK economy, is the mean and median pay gap between men and women. PwC found that the median of the wider UK economy comes is approximately 14% – with upper quartile companies noted for a gap of low 20%, and lower quartile companies noted for differences of around 2%.

The median pay gap for HTL comes in at well below 7%, with the median close to parity. There are considerable differences, however, with hospitality at 7%, while travel comes in considerably higher, at 22%. The latter figure reflects fewer women in higher paid pilot and technical positions within the industry.

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Mental health of LGBT+ staff neglected by workplaces

05 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Mental health in the workplace is perpetually in the spotlight, but the mental health challenges of LGBT+ workers have often been absent from the conversation. New analysis shows that LGBT+ people are more likely to attribute mental illness to their work environment and are less likely to be positive about support received, while employer interventions tend to not change the conditions for them compared to heterosexual staff.

The prevalence of mental illnesses in the UK remains high, with as many as one in every four individuals in Britain suffering at least one episode of some variety throughout their lives. Currently, around 8% of the population is in a state of depression, prompting many businesses across the country to create initiatives for staff on the matter. While there is impetus for companies to look like they are making efforts to support staff, a number of surveys have shown that little has materially changed, even if employers have waxed lyrical about mental health issues.

Indeed, while 70% of managers suggest their firm’s financial goals often block them from providing mental health support, fewer than half of organisations deal with employee mental health effectively. With 61% of the UK’s workforce suffering some form of mental health ailment, this is bad enough, but the situation is even worse for LGBT+ employees, of whom little is often written on the matter.

Findings from BITC’s 2018 Mental Health at Work Survey

Social control around sexual orientation has seen homosexual and transsexual groups generally harassed, stigmatised, and, for centuries, criminalised. The effect of various forms of discrimination caused considerable social and individual harms – particularly in terms of mental health. Recent decades have sought to change perceptions around sexual orientations, with criminalisation being removed for homosexuality in the developed and much of the developing world, while other forms of social control are challenged. There is, however, still a great deal of work to do in order to realise an inclusive and equal workplace and society.

According to a new report from Mercer, four-fifths of LGBT+ respondents have suffered from mental conditions, and 72% said that it stemmed from their work environment. Furthermore, a tenth of respondents said that they believed their identity affected their furtherment at work, while 6% said it was a factor in their being let go.

Estimates of those that self-identify as gay, lesbian or ‘other’ stand at between 2.5-5.43% of the population of England. The figure thereby encompasses a large proportion of the working population, with social control at the workplace between employees creating headaches and additional costs for employers.

Mental health concerns

The UK Government National LGBT+ survey in 2017, which resulted in more than 100,000 responses, sought to identify wider trends affecting self-identifying individuals and their communities. The survey found considerable fear among respondents, with two-thirds not holding hands in public due to fear of a backlash. The headline result, however, was that on average the group was less satisfied with their life than the general population, at 6.5 out of 10 vs. 7.7 out of 10. A large cohort, 24%, had accessed mental health services in the preceding 12 months to the survey.

At the employment level, 56% of respondents said that they were uncomfortable about being open about their sexual orientation in the workplace. Around 23% said that they received negative or mixed responses about their sexual orientation from others in the workplace, while 11% experienced unspecified inappropriate comments or conduct, and 9% received verbal harassment.

Problems persist

The survey highlights the considerable impact workplaces have on LGBT+ respondents. The study found 82% of respondents have experienced a mental health condition, with 72% attributing that condition to workplace experiences. Many people are hiding their identity from their colleagues, at 26%, with 9% encouraged to hide their identity by colleagues. 9% of LGBT+ employees said that they felt that they missed out on a promotion due to their identity, while 6% said that it was a factor in their being fired.

Support offered

Support for people with mental illness at work continues to be an issue globally. While there is increased effort to remove stigmas and to provide genuine support for people suffering from mental illnesses – that work is often a major factor in the development of a condition, reflecting the wider difficulty of creating a safe environment, on the one hand, and supporting those who cannot cope, on the other.

The wider difficulties faced by LGBT+ identities in a work environment add additional complexity. LGBT+ respondents are relatively positive about the support received from their organisation to mental health problems, with 45% rating it either very well or fairly well. However, when it comes to LGBT+ respondents that have suffered a mental health condition, 40% said that their organisation does not treat mental health conditions well.

Raising mental health issues at work comes with risks. However, the study found some differences between how heterosexual and LGBT+ respondents were treated. LGBT+ respondents were more likely to see no change in their work situation, at 44% compared to 20% of heterosexuals. They were also considerably less likely to be sacked or made redundant, with time off a more common outcome.