by PEGGY BERG
While women became a majority of college students in 1973, it wasn’t until 2019 that women became a majority of the college-educated work force. It took 46 years, likely because company culture discouraged women from moving up when they had families. But now, with the pressure of our majority female talent pipeline, 78 percent of talent professionals say diversity is a top hiring priority for their company, and gender diversity in particular is the number-one issue they are tackling in this area, according to LinkedIn Talent Solutions. This shift is accelerating as baby boomers retire. It means successful companies need to bring women into leadership as well as bringing them into the entry-level workforce.
Further, “firms with female CEOs and CFOs produce superior stock price performance, compared to the market average, and firms with a high gender diversity on their board of directors are more profitable and larger than firms with low gender diversity,” according to GlobalMarket Intelligence. With undeniable statistical evidence, responsible corporate leadership is driving change.
Undergoing a Significant Cultural Shift
Women taking prominent positions with financial control – P&L responsibility – is a significant cultural shift. Until 1974, women could be denied credit cards and mortgages in their own name because of gender. Since they couldn’t have mortgages, women usually couldn’t own their homes, and we certainly couldn’t own hotels. When I got a college loan, a mournful banker told me that he was sure I’d never pay it back. It was probably the first loan he’d ever done for a woman.
Even today, leaders of many companies – or the mothers, fathers, professors, and bosses who trained them – were brought up to assume that women could not be financially responsible and should not have public roles. They assumed that women could not hold professional positions of responsibility while raising families. Those biases ran deep. My partners told clients that I had gone on “the mommy track” when I had my first child.
Many of Castell Project’s champions and supporters have daughters. AAHOA has improved prospects for businesses including many that are owned and operated by married couples and women. Although today women may not be the most visible partner, their leadership is vital. One and two generations later, we find both men and women in AAHOA who are committed to positive cultural change for women to benefit their companies, and to benefit their daughters and granddaughters.
Offering Opportunities for Women
Companies need a culture that welcomes both women and men at all levels in order to compete for talent in the hospitality industry. This is as true of family companies as of other corporations. A family company that offers opportunity to women also positions itself to be the employment choice for its own next generation.
By the time I got my first loan to buy and renovate a hotel, the bank and the SBA were eager to expand their market with women borrowers. And my dad was there with his checkbook, although I was afraid to ask him to invest. It represented a financial risk for him and a risk of failure on a whole different level for me. But he was so excited that, ultimately, it wasn’t even a question. His belief in his daughter meant the world to me.
For this reason, it truly gives me pleasure to work with hotel companies and their owners to develop this new generation of women leaders. This is a time of remarkable opportunity for women, their companies, and their families.
At Castell Project, we are proud and excited to be working with AAHOA and its members.
Peggy Berg is the founder & president of Castell Project.