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The hospitality sector is often a high capacity employer of women, with more than 50% of the workforce comprising female workers.
With its reliance on shift workers, housekeepers, front of house and catering staff, the hospitality industry is often a good fit for women, especially those with families. However, despite their prevalence in the sector, very few women are making it to senior management or board positions within the industry.
Now a ground-breaking survey of women in the workforce has been launched to try to establish what women’s experiences are of juggling their career and their personal priorities. A survey on this scale has not been attempted before, and Opportunity Now is asking all women in this age bracket – whether in work or unemployed; with families or without – to share their views.
Opportunity Now is Business in the Community’s gender campaign. The survey will enable women to tell their stories; to share their experiences of workplace cultures and to give a personal view of how career ambition fits in with their other goals in life.
Project 28-40 will give a unique insight into the career drivers for women on a scale not undertaken before. The study is designed to more accurately pinpoint why women are not achieving their full potential in the workplace during a crucial phase of their careers.
According to industry data, the 28-40 age range is where the gap between female and male career progression widens. The survey will include women who have left the workplace, whether they are planning to return or not, as well as those who are still working.
It will enable women to describe what is important to them and will explore cultural aspects of their experience, including societal attitudes, as well as practical issues such as maternity leave where appropriate. ‘Project 28-40’ will also target other groups, including older and younger women and men, as this will help to identify specific issues affecting women’s careers.
Helena Morrissey CBE, Chair of Opportunity Now, said: “28-40 is a critical age for career development where at the moment women fail to be promoted at the same rate as men - a problem both for women and companies. This survey, the largest ever undertaken globally, will help us all really understand the reasons behind the current imbalance. We’re asking women to share their experiences candidly and to provide their own perspectives about harder-to-measure aspects such as culture and attitudes, so better initiatives can be developed for everyone’s benefit.”
The survey, hosted by PwC, explores the meaning of success, as well as the importance of specific areas of career development and support, the value of role models in the workplace, and why women decide to leave work or develop alternative career paths.
Kathryn Nawrockyi, Director of Opportunity Now, added: “This pioneering study will help us understand the nature of female ambition and give greater clarity around why and how women leave the workforce. We are encouraging as many women as possible to complete this survey in order to draw a complete picture of life at work for women today and areas they would like to see improved.”
Following the survey the data will be used to help create new initiatives that can help employers improve the gender balance at all levels in their organisations.
Gaenor Bagley, executive board member and head of people at PwC, added: “We are partnering with Opportunity Now on this landmark project because we recognise the urgent need to better understand the barriers holding women back from progressing in their careers. This is about getting to the root of the problem and coming up with some actions that will make a difference. I believe this will have a positive impact for women, business and the economy alike.”
The survey is available at http://www.project2840.com/ and will run until Sunday 15th December. The initial findings of the report will be launched during Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Week (31 March – 4 April 2014).