Hospitality comes naturally to women, so making a career in the industry can be utilising their strengths to the core. They also make great managers just like men. In my own experience, having spent 23 years in the industry; I have felt the privilege of being a woman at my workplace. All careers come with their own set of challenges; I too have faced the ups and downs in my personal as well as professional life. But have been able to meet all those adversities head on, due to immense support from my family as well as the mentoring I got from my seniors. I also have realised that not everyone might be as lucky as I, so Indian Women in Hospitality (IWH) was created as a platform for knowledge sharing, networking, ideating, mentoring and empowering. Another aspect being creating awareness about the industry still not understood well; especially with respect to careers for women.
As an educationist, trainer and a counselor; I have addressed many career guidance seminars. I also counsel students who want to pursue a career in hospitality. During these sessions, I meet many parents who were concerned about the safety of their children joining the hospitality industry; especially guardians of girls. I find it surprising as we are in 2020; where the whole world is talking about rocket science, people are discussing virtual reality, artificial intelligence on one hand; on the other this exists in our society.
I graduated in Hotel Management in 1997 from IHM Mumbai, that time such questions were common. But in this era, it’s difficult for me to come to terms with such concerns. That’s when I took a firm determination that being a part of the industry and a responsible citizen of the nation – I’ll do whatever I can for the fraternity!
Charged with the idea, I created a Facebook page called the Indian Women in Hospitality (IWH) with the hope of getting good topics to write on. I was surprised with the response I got on the page. There were more than 400 lady professionals- from General Managers to CEOs to HR and Sales heads of the various hospitality organizations. I realised that I had to do somethingbigger; for the kind of profiles that were there. Then the idea of a website came to my mind and this is how IWH was born. I had to take approval from my organization, I am thankful to my management for their support. It was one of the most empowering moments for me; it was my chance to give back to the fraternity.
There is good representation of women workforce in the hospitality industry but only at the lower levels of hierarchy; it thins down drastically as we move up the pyramid. Skills reports suggest that the top two industries having the best potential to be employers to women are banking and hospitality. However data indicates that women do not stay in the industry because they feel excluded from the informal communication networks and often feel overlooked when decisions regarding progression are made. Organisations need to focus on career path and succession planning for their women employees.
IWH has a great role to play as we have women professionals from the hospitality across geographical locations and cultures. We share information, we educate, create awareness and we also mentor. We have the veterans and the freshers on one platform. There are many role models and inspirational personal journeys of the ladies shared on the website for all to read and take a few pages off their stories. We are turning one and we move forward with renewed enthusiasm and doing things that are meaningful! It has a mentorship programme where members connect to discuss and plan their careers or seek advice on the personal front. Healthy discussions on pertinent issues are a regular feature of the closed group. We have had some online training programs too. This is the beginning, we are happy with the support we have received from the industry, we also see a continued long and fruitful association.We aspire to give back to the fraternity and the society by means of knowledge sharing or partnering in meaningful social causes.
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