Women to the front


Castell Project brings balance to hospitality

We want to evolve and progress, but changes in policies and behaviors bring unknown challenges and that keep us, and our organizations, stuck in patterns that hold us back.

Seventy-eight percent of talent professionals say diversity is a top hiring priority for their company, and gender diversity is the number-one issue they are tackling in this area, according to LinkedIn Talent Solutions. From CEOs to HR executives to supervisors, hospitality industry people express the desire to increase diversity, particularly in opening leadership to women. However, there is a breakdown between these intentions and the number of women in leadership roles.

While this is true across all industries, optimizing the contribution of female team members is particularly important in the hospitality industry because our employees, our talent pipeline, and our customer decision makers are all majority female. The industry is out of alignment, and this will become more severe as baby boomers retire. Castell Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit built to facilitate bringing women into hospitality industry leadership, has a mission to see women in at least one of every three leadership positions.

Corporate leadership wants diversity because companies with diverse leadership are more resilient and more profitable over time. At the same time, company culture resists diversity because homogeneity is comfortable. There are adventurous souls that consider change to be great fun. But for most, change, including the changes around diversity, are likely to involve fear and/or frustration. We want to evolve and progress, but changes in policies and behaviors bring unknown challenges and that keep us, and our organizations, stuck in patterns that hold us back.

There are two sides to bringing women into leadership. On one side, women with great potential need to build skills to grow into leadership roles. On the other, corporate culture must adapt so women have the competitive opportunity to move up. So, both individual women and companies must evolve.

To address these realities, Castell has designed initiatives to ease frictions that restrict the mobility of women. Castell provides training and resources to open corporate culture for women.

Castell programs provide specific and exclusive training for women in the five areas where gender-specific development makes a difference. The BUILD and ELEVATE programs include a year of support with a three-day training practicum, monthly team calls, and executive coaching.

Castell BUILD is for emerging women leaders. BUILD primes executive presence, establishes a resource network and teaches negotiation, building advocacy relationships and developing strategic career goals.

Castell ELEVATE is for established women leaders. ELEVATE enhances communication and negotiation skills, expands resource relationships, and raises executive presence. ELEVATE primes executive women for high-level advancement.

Each woman who participates is nominated by a champion from her company because we want Castell programs to support the growth of women within their companies. The insight these champions have into their candidates’ strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities – whether the champion is a direct boss, human resource professional, or CEO – is eye-opening and encouraging. Either men or women can be champions and make an enormous difference in the careers of program participants.

Castell Project is supported by Hilton, founding sponsor of the Ladder Up capital campaign, as well as ACCOR and IHG at the Leader level. Companies that own, manage, and advise this industry also are involved on committees, as sponsors and as champions and include Daly Gray, Pinnacle Advisory, Aimbridge, HVMG, Park Hotels and Resorts, Wyndham, Choice, Marriott, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, Pinkowski & Company, RLJ, Hunter Hotel Advisors, BHN, Legacy Properties, The Lodging Conference, Apple REIT, Dellisart, John Hardy Group International, Atlanta Hospitality Alliance, and others. AHLEF supports Castell research with a grant.
We are proud AAHOA is a supporter of the Castell Project and are excited to work with the women leaders of AAHOA.

To champion a woman who has strong potential with your company, please visit www.castellproject.org/champions. To learn about participating, please visit www.castellproject.org/participants.

Going beyond BUILD & ELEVATE
Other Castell Project initiatives include:

  • Castell@College: On-campus two-hour programs connect teams of executive women with students at colleges and universities where they discuss the exciting opportunities and strong careers available to women in the hospitality industry – including women with kids. Castell welcomes executive-level women volunteers who want to participate in bringing Castell@College to their alma mater or a school in their community. It’s high-energy, fun and a great way to give back. Learn more at www.castellproject.org/castell-college.
  • Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership: An annual statistical report benchmarking the industry’s progress toward bringing women into leadership. Women are visible throughout the industry, but only with data can we truly understand progress in leadership. The complete report is a free download available at www.castellproject.org/castell-research.
  • WSH List and Women on the Podium: An annual list of 1,000 executive women in all hospitality fields that is curated into custom short lists of prospective speakers and provided to organizers of industry conferences on request. Visibility for women is a prerequisite to advancement and is critical for an industry that wants to show employees that they have opportunity.
  • The Castell Award: An annual award that puts remarkable female leaders on the podium. Heather McCrory, CEO Americas of Accor, was awarded the inaugural Castell Award at The Lodging Conference 2019. Nominate a woman for the 2020 award at surveys.str.com/s3/Castell-Award-Nomination-Form.

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