Hot Topic: Quotas for women in leadership roles

Peggy Li and Alison Grinnell offer two different views on a hot topic in hospitality

(Left to right) Peggy Li & Alison Grinnell
(Left to right) Peggy Li & Alison Grinnell

We put some of the industry's most important questions to key professionals in hospitality. This month we asked Peggy Li, managing partner and chief troubleshooter at SPS Affinity, and Alison Grinnell, CEO of RAK Hospitality, whether there should be quotas for women in leadership roles. 

Peggy Li
Managing partner and chief troubleshooter, SPS Affinity 

Quotas are a somewhat controversial topic and tool, but in this case, I would support quotas, because our industry, by its very nature, requires a diverse work — and leadership force made up out of people that are adaptable, agile, and possess empathy. Female leaders usually score high on the latter while also ticking the other two boxes, yet may face obstacles (family commitments, career breaks, etc.) in securing leadership roles. Having a quota system would encourage companies currently lacking behind in this matter to catch up — drag them into the 21st century if you want to put it that way. We all know that there are still many companies in our industry that seriously lack female leaders. Quotas would also help companies generally to enhance their culture and strengthen the leadership structures overall, simply because they will help in making things more diverse and reflective of the range of employees, guests, and diners we deal with on a daily basis. I envisage the end result to be that companies in the region will catch up with their counterparts in other parts of the world and that service delivery and company culture improve.

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Alison Grinnell 
CEO, RAK Hospitality 

Hiring on merit and skills should be a basic and desirable objective for any corporation and business. Employees, on the other hand, should also be more attracted to work and value those companies which are transparent, open and aligned with this conviction. I believe that prospects opportunities for candidates should be designed around fairness and equality. Talents' own skillsets, dedication, attitude will make them successful in their career. Having quotas seems forcing and assuming that certain skillsets are external to personal capabilities and attitude that manifest and develop through study, experience, coaching and continuous self-development. It is so important for us to level the field and give the candidates a fair chance to prove their abilities and capabilities. So I believe that as much as we should possibly try to have a heterogeneous mix of colleagues and employees, at the same time we should keep focusing on favoring the individuals that are those who would better comply with the job requirements. Paraphrasing a quote from Jim Collins I would say that the right people are your most important asset.

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