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“Women in leadership” top priority for hotel group

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Written by editor

Females in executive positions are currently a hot topic in South Africa as much as in the rest of the world.

Females in executive positions are currently a hot topic in South Africa as much as in the rest of the world. There has been a lot of talk about developing women and getting the right balance of males and females in the boardroom and Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, part of the Rezidor Hotel Group, is doing more than just talking.

Wolfgang M. Neumann, President & CEO of the Rezidor Hotel Group, has set Rezidor’s leadership a challenge – to increase the percentage of women in senior leadership positions to at least 30% by end of 2016. This is a bold target and a real sign of how committed the Rezidor Hotel Group is to changing the gender balance in the company.

This is a challenge that is faced by the hospitality industry. It is not a women’s issue, it is a critical business issue and it requires a change in the company’s culture which will benefit men and women alike. The hotel group’s objective is to be an employer of choice in the global hotel industry, no matter what a person’s gender is. The Women in Leadership (WiL) initiative has been created to build on its heritage of growing from within and bring a positive change in the company’s culture by overcoming the barriers that may be blocking women from developing into senior leadership positions. Organisations with inclusive cultures do better on several scores than those that aren’t inclusive – with 39% higher customer satisfaction, 22% greater productivity and 27% higher profitability (Gallop Workplace Studies).

Debra Sivertsen, GM of Radisson Blu Hotel, Waterfront and Women in Leadership Champion for sub-Saharan Africa says, “With only 16% of the senior leadership positions at Rezidor currently held by women, gender balance is top priority for the hotel, and the Rezidor Hotel Group as a whole. That is why we have appointed Women in Leadership champions around the globe, consisting of males and females, and have implemented programmes designed to develop all our employees.”

The Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront is implementing development and training programs such as, Manage Lead Succeed and other programs with tailor made development plans directly linked to the unique challenges the hospitality industry presents.

The Women in Leadership initiative will help both women and men by encouraging a change in the way Rezidor employees work in three key ways:

1. Taking a more flexible approach to working conditions – by supporting part-time work (especially within senior roles) and ensuring employees adapt to local rules of engagement.

2. Personalised development plans – by bringing some depth to development plans and shifting the discussion away from a focus on the process to a focus on the person, and what they need and want from Rezidor as a company.

3. A more flexible approach to mobility – by accepting that mobility is an ever-changing state of circumstance for some people and understanding that “Yes I Can!” can be “a no, not right now”.

“The Women in Leadership program represent a major, proactive mission to bring about a truly positive change in our company’s diversity and inclusive culture. Most importantly, Women In Leadership is being conceived and driven by our people for our people – it was developed through employee workshops involving equal numbers of male and female employees from varying positions across the company,” continues Mrs Sivertsen.

The program is about retaining a larger pool of talent for senior leadership positions in order to improve the competitiveness of the Rezidor Hotel Group. To do this, Radisson Blu Hotel, Waterfront, is tapping into and continually developing their already existing pool of talent. It also aims to remove barriers in the business to support their long-term growth.

Mrs Sivertsen adds that “Internal promotions reduce induction time and allow us to quickly concentrate on the business needs. We’ve found that internal promotions also create a business culture where people have the ability to move and thrive.”

Teams perform better with an equal number of women and men.
Research has shown that mixed gender teams are more generous and egalitarian, and that teams with a larger percentage of women perform better by building meaningful relationships and creating successful work processes (Harvard, 2013)

“We want to tap into the creativity and the subsequent innovation that surfaces when people with different backgrounds, ideas and experiences come together and create a different business culture where more people can thrive,” concludes Mrs Sivertsen.