The International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM) organised the first-ever IIHM Global Conference on Women in Hospitality to celebrate International Women’s Day. The event brought together women leaders and experts in the hospitality industry to share their experiences, insights and challenges. The event aimed to inspire and empower women to take up leadership roles in the hospitality industry and overcome gender barriers and challenges.
The IIHM Global Conference for Women in Hospitality 2023 was IIHM’s way of putting the spotlight on the United Nations’ SDG Goal No. 5 — Gender Equality.
The global conference consisted of six sessions, each focusing on a different aspect of women’s leadership in hospitality. The topics of the sessions were as follows:
·Women Leaders in the Hospitality Industry: Overcoming Gender Barriers and Challenges
·Female Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries
·Women Chefs of Today: Breaking the Male Bastion
·Diversity and Inclusion in the Hospitality Industry: Creating a Gender-Neutral Workplace
·Role of Women in Promoting Sustainability in Hospitality
·Women’s Leadership and Career Progression in the Hospitality Industry
A stellar cast of speakers from around the world shared its views on the riveting and highly relevant topics.
The first session featured women leaders in the hospitality industry who had broken barriers and overcome challenges to reach the top of their organisations. The session highlighted their journey and provided insights on how women can navigate the hospitality industry’s male-dominated environment. Participants included Ms Vita Whitaker, CEO, Whitco Catering and Bakery Equipment Ltd; TV Chef Rakhee Vaswani; Ankita Sheth, Founder, StayVista; and Christine Debouzy, Présidente de l’association Française des Femmes Pilotes. Ms Whitaker said: “Equality stems from within a person. The easiest would be to surround yourself with people who give you confidence and respect, like this powerful panel.” Speaking about the way forward, Debouzy said: “Youth is filled with new ideas. There is a lot of work that is required for having a society which is truly equal. It is the ideas of the youth that can shape the society of the future.”
The second session focussed on female entrepreneurship in developing countries. Women entrepreneurs often face challenges in starting and running their businesses, and the hospitality industry is no exception. The session discussed ways to support and promote women entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry. Speakers included Aditi Handa, Co-Founder, The Baker’s Dozen; Shabnam Haldar, Director, IIHM Ahmedabad Campus; and award-winning chef and cookbook author Abhilasha Chandak. Jyoti Mayal, President, Travel Agents Association of India pointed out, “Sustainability is equitable distribution of resources, for today and for the future. This cannot be achieved without Gender Equality.”
The third session featured women chefs who had broken the glass ceiling in hotel and restaurant kitchens, which have traditionally been dominated by men, and challenged conventional stereotypes. The session highlighted the challenges faced by women chefs and their contributions to the culinary world. “Everybody has to be mindful of the impact of what you say,” internationally renowned pastry chef Sarah Hartnett said during the session, “In any of the best kitchens that I have worked in, we have always had a balance of men and women. Once I don a chef’s coat, I am a chef, not a woman or a man.” Chef Naureen Shaikh, International Young Chef Olympiad 2023 Bronze Medallist, who was also part of the session, said, “I have always been supported by IIHM and through that, I have learnt that gender bias is actually just in the mind. Workwise, a bias cannot exist. If you work hard, you will succeed.” Truly inspiring words those!
Other sessions brought up a host of interesting subjects. If one session focused on the role of women in promoting sustainability in hospitality, another examined the challenges women face in career progression in the hospitality industry. Prominent participants included Mrs Sanjukta Bose, Director and Co-Founder of IIHM and Dr Madhu Chandok, Founder of PIP 2020. Kate Nicholls OBE, CEO, UKHospitality had a progressive and positive take: “Hospitality is a futureproof industry. As a sector there is a tremendous growth in opportunity. The jobs in the industry will evolve with the technology, as the industry is experience-centric. Therefore, it is important that hospitality degrees today teach the skills of the future.”
On the occasion of the conference, legendary hospitality educationist Professor David Foskett said: “Women enrich the workforce. We need to celebrate the role of women in the world of hospitality, and I thank IIHM for organising this conference which in a true sense celebrates the Power of Women.”
Dr Suborno Bose, Founder, IIHM and the force behind the pathbreaking global conference said, “The speakers today included the most illustrious and successful women of international repute in the hospitality industry. Following the United Nations’ theme of International Women’s Day of DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality, IIHM has focused on Sustainability and Technology for providing a strong platform, where women can choose a career off the beaten path and join the world of International Hospitality.”
The IIHM Global Conference on Women in Hospitality 2023 emerged as an excellent platform for women leaders, experts, and aspiring professionals in the hospitality industry to come together, share their experiences, and learn from each other. The event was attended by several prominent personalities in the hospitality industry, including chefs, hoteliers, and entrepreneurs. Going forward, the event will inspire and empower women to take up leadership roles in the hospitality industry and break gender barriers.
The IIHM Global Conference on Women in Hospitality is a significant step towards promoting gender diversity and inclusion in the hospitality industry. The conference will help create awareness and highlight the contributions of women in the hospitality industry, as well as inspire more women to take up leadership roles.
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