Women 1st initiative launches to develop senior women in sector

A new scheme to develop senior women in the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism (HLTT) sector was launched today.

The aim of the Women 1st initiative is to double the number of women in board-level positions in the sector by 2015.

It was launched by sector skills council People 1st with the support of Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

She said: “This is not about some kind of positive discrimination for women. The goal of Women 1st is to address the imbalance at the top of the hospitality, leisure and tourism sector, and do it in a practical and feminine way by encouraging role models and mentors.”

People 1st chief executive Brian Wisdom added: “We want to create 200,000 more jobs in this sector by 2017 and that will need 69,000 managers. I’m not sure the industry can do it without developing and retaining its women leaders.”

The Women 1st project includes a leadership network, a mentoring and coaching programme, personalised training, and business solutions offering employers tangible examples and case studies on how to support women who want to move up the career ladder.

As part of the initiative, People 1st is co-sponsoring the Shine Awards for Female Talent in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality for the next three years. Nominations for the 2010 awards opened today.

Highlighting the sector’s gender imbalance at the launch, People 1st business solutions director Sharon Glancy said 59% of the HLTT sector’s workforce is female, but only 6% of company directors are female, compared with the average across all industries of 12%.

In total, 26% of senior management positions in the sector are held by women. Meanwhile, the number of women working in any management position in the sector fell from 49% in 2004-2005, to 46% in 2007-2008.

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