AETHOS report shows women's presence in hotel boardrooms is up, but not enough

Five women are now CEOs of hospitality companies, up from just one in 2007.

A new report from AETHOS Consulting Group, a global advisory firm that focuses on the hospitality industry, indicates that more hiring managers and nomination committees are open to gender diversity in company boardrooms throughout the hospitality industry than ever before. 

The report, titled “Women’s Presence Growing in Hotel Boardrooms,” was conducted by Chris Mumford, AETHOS London’s managing director, and found female executives represent 22 percent of positions in boardrooms throughout hospitality.

Key findings of the report include:


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  • An analysis of of the presence of women on executive management teams, finding InterContinental Hotels Group had the highest number of female executives overall at 40 percent;
  • Approximately 24 percent of all board seats at publicly listed hotel companies are occupied by women directors;
  • As of 2017, five additional women are now CEOs among those leading the 50 largest hotel companies, up from just one female CEO in 2007. The six companies in question are APA Hospitality, China Lodging Group, Iberostar, Riu, Tokyo Inn and Whitbread.
The report called out China Lodging, Choice, Hyatt, Jin Jiang, Melia, Millennium & Copthorne and Rezidor for being “out of touch with the times.”

"Gaining a seat at the board table is only part of the equation," Thomas Mielke, a London-based managing director for AETHOS Consulting, said in a statement. "Diversity is as much about inclusion as it is about equal and fair treatment. Whilst transparency around policies that aim to ensure a more balance board has improved, the gender pay gap remains significant. Although there appears to be some year-on-year progress, as underpinned by the regional statistics of the Equal Pay Day movement, it is a fact that female executives still earn below the benchmark set by their male counterparts. 

“Where in the recent past quotas might have helped to drive diversity, it is hopefully initiatives such as the one from the UK's Government Equalities Office, which is requiring private companies with more than 250 employees to formally and publicly report on the gender pay gap as of April of this year, which help create a more transparent and balanced work place," Mielke said.

"While it's important to focus on 'getting the right person in place for the job,' it's also important to consider how and by whom the selection criteria for the 'right person' is established,” Juliette Boone, managing director of AETHOS and founder at HireAdvice, said in a statement. “So much more still needs to be done to re-engineer the workplace. As our 2013 research study, ‘Rethinking a Glass Ceiling in the Hospitality Industry’ concluded, ‘for women to continue to excel in moving forward and upward within organizations they need support not only developing leadership and professional skills, but they also require proactive engagement in strong mentorship and personal development programs.’”

The full report, “Women’s Presence Growing in Hotel Boardrooms,” can be found here.

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