by Alan Campbell, Featured Contributor
IN RESPONSE to Sheryl Sandberg video on you tube concerning the fact that women still are a minority in the C level suite. The publication of her book “Lean In” is now I understand a best seller. With all of the facts and percentages quoted by Ms. Sandberg it shows that women still lag far behind in a man’s world. I am not disputing the facts, I happen to agree that there is an unbalance in the work force between men and women. However the reason for the unbalance is not entirely the blame of the male side of the equation. Ms. Sandberg quotes that women are reluctant to raise their hands, and to ask questions. They have a tendency to sit on the sidelines as opposed to sitting at the table as Ms. Sandberg point out. Having said all of this I can only express my opinion related to my field, which is the hospitality Industry, so the views expressed by me are those that I have seen during my career in this industry.
I am going to start out by saying there are a lot of women in the C- class board room of the hotel industry. A good percentage of them though was handed to them from parents. They did not come up from the ranks, or elected to the position. (Radisson) some were appointed (Four Seasons) and some abruptly resigned. For those that earned it I applaud. Now let’s not get all excited over my words just yet. There are many reasons that women won’t lean in to take a more productive role in their respective vocation or business. There is a lady at the top of the food chain at Yahoo who is making noise she obviously is leaning in. I wrote an article a while back where I had expressed my opinion as to why the hospitality industry lacks women in the top post.
As well qualified as they may be their desire to succeed only goes so far, they lack one quality that I have noticed. They lack the passion for the industry, the hotel industry is a beast all to itself, it’s a 24/7 type of business. This statement has caused a lot of heated discussions from the female respondents. I will have to say this for there is an exception to every rule. There does exist female leaders that do possess the passion for their business. It’s plain to see that Ms. Sandberg is in that league, but as she herself has pointed out, there are a lot that don’t possess it, or won’t go the extra mile for it. Recently Niki Leondakis took over as CEO of Commune Hotels & Resorts, time will tell as to how she will perform. I would say she will do well, for she worked for one of the best hotel companies around: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Here again is an example of leaning in.
I don’t expect the industry to change anytime soon, Men will dominate the C- level for many years to come. Women if they expect to raise to the level of men they will need to do a lot of sitting at the table, and that is not going to be easy. For lack of better words, men keep removing chairs………
If I agree or disagree with the powers to be it becomes a moot point. If women are to be recognized and respected as their male counterpart they better be prepared to step up to the plate and start hitting home runs.