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Hospitality companies need to improve front-line workplace for women, report says

There’s a great deal hospitality companies can do to improve the quality of the front-line work environment for women, according to a new report from Catalyst and Accenture.

The report, entitled “Women on the Front Line: Enabling Them to Thrive, Stay, and Perform,” was based on interviews and diary exercises with 72 front-line workers across the retail, hospitality and manufacturing industries. The results helped Catalyst identify systemic changes that it said are needed to create “more respectful and rewarding workplaces” for women.

Lorraine Hariton, president and CEO of Catalyst, said that women working in front-line roles are necessary to maintain daily operations of the largest companies in the world.

“They were also disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and still feel its effects. Companies have told us that attracting and retaining women in the front-line workforce is a priority,” Hariton said. “And women’s voices, well-being and contributions must be central to these efforts. Building respectful and rewarding workplaces of all kinds is at the core of this report and Catalyst’s broadened focus on women in front-line roles.”

In order to create a better environment for women working on the front line, Catalyst advises that companies “invest in physical well-being,” “adopt employee-centered scheduling practices,” “create and clarify growth opportunities” and “enable managers to lead empathetically.”

Some hospitality brands are already working to implement some of these practices.

In a conversation about the findings, Erica Pollard, vice president of human resources and global customer engagement centers for Marriott International, said the hospitality giant has already begun working to incorporate more flexibility for its staff. 

“When we think about the inflexibility that we once had with scheduling, physical demanding work in the hospitality industry, when you’re looking at someone who’s potentially cleaning up to 12 to 16 rooms a day, that definitely takes a toll on your body over years and years of service, along with working in food and beverage lists, lifting heavy trays and then the demands that we expect of our associates or employees to give great customer service all at the same time,” she said. “And so these are some of those obstacles and opportunities that … we had to change, and we had to change our philosophy and how we were going to attract new talent into this industry.”

Pollard added that it’s important to make sure companies are “bringing women along.”

“I mean by bringing them along in the decision-making process, asking their feedback, getting their innovative ideas,” Pollard said. “And then celebrating it and championing it and ways that you can recognize it amongst the teams that they work on. I think that would be amazing and continuing to support the work that we’ve seen here today.”

Read the full report here.

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