I wrote about women in the hospitality sector not too long ago — just in the May 2017 issue, in fact, when I hosted a roundtable of fantastic women in the industry, who were talking about the opportunities and challenges in this sector.

At the time, I said that I have never worked on a single Hotelier Middle East Power 50 with a woman on the list — and after this year’s list came out, this still holds true. What was frustrating is that we received a certain amount of flak for this. As the team explained when the list was released, it’s created based on who is the highest ranking regional representative in the Middle East for those operators. None of them are women, unfortunately. So the initial accusations of the list’s veracity were, frankly, unjustified.

Another moment where I despaired was after the hugely successful eighth edition of the Hotelier Middle East: Great GM Debate which took place on September 26 (full coverage on our website, and the November issue of this magazine). Someone asked why there were no women on the speakers’ list. This was unfortunately because the ones we asked were unavailable.

However, when we put together power lists, or we approach speakers to be part of our conferences, we do so irrespective of gender. If as a hotelier, you are good at your job, we don’t care where you’re from or what gender you are — we’ll talk to you. Nevertheless, as an all-woman team (from editorial through to events), of course we’re keeping our eye out for fantastic female leaders to feature in our magazine and events.

However, I must stress again: we spend our time hunting for these women. There are, you must admit, more men in the upper echelons of this industry than women, and our magazine reflects that.

However, as I said earlier, I am extremely heartened by all the efforts the  hospitality industry is making towards gender balance. For example, I saw great strides being made when I moderated a panel at Hilton’s Women in Leadership Conference in Dubai last month;  it was a great experience.

So while operators are doing amazing things to push the issue of gender diversity within their organisations, we are merely holding up a mirror to the industry to show you where you’re at right now.

That said, our shortlist for the Hotelier Middle East Awards is a beautiful mix of men and women, which I’m really excited about. Good luck to all the nominees — may the best hotelier, irrespective of gender, win!

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