Guarding Against Unintended Consequences

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MBS Intelligence

Guarding against unintended consequences The Impact of Covid-19 on Gender and Race & Ethnic Diversity in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure


Contents Forewords Tea Colaianni – Founder & Chair, WiHTL Katy Bennett – People and Organisation Director, PwC UK Elliott Goldstein – Managing Partner, The MBS Group

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Executive Summary


Backward step or a catalyst for change?


The impact of Covid-19 on women in HTL


The impact of Covid-19 on employees from ethnic minority backgrounds in HTL


The Employee Voice


Looking Ahead


Further Reading


WiHTL dates for your diary


About Us





s the spread of Covid-19 and its devastating impact continue to ravage our personal and professional lives, I have been increasingly concerned about the impact of the pandemic, lockdown and return to work on the hospitality, travel and leisure industry from a diversity and inclusion perspective, in particular focusing on women and people of colour, the core focus of our activities at WiHTL - Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure. Together with The MBS Group and PwC, we decided to assess the unintended consequences of furloughing, restructuring, reorganisations, the shift to remote working and the recession from both a leaders’ standpoint and the employee perspective. This report represents a snapshot of what we heard and experienced over the last few months. A few considerations and learnings are worth capturing and informing our leaders’ approach as we experience an increase of Covid-19 cases and face enhanced restrictions that will inflict further damage on our industry. • Health and wellbeing of people have become a strategic priority for most businesses; • As flexible working patterns and remote working have become part of the way we work, we are learning to adapt to a hybrid working environment. How do we ensure that workplaces do not become VIP lounges for those that are able to return and we do not forget those that are out of sight? The acceleration and mainstreaming of online and at-home working arrangements present huge opportunities to harness talent and should benefit rather than hinder women’s careers and improve work-life balance for all employees; • Whilst remote working arrangements have provided much welcome flexibility and family time for some, there is no doubt that it has put additional strain on those with care responsibilities and also that these responsibilities are likely to continue for some time. We need to support all those with caring

responsibilities, having due regard to the potential for maternal bias; • Diversity and inclusion has dropped down the priority list for boards and senior leaders over the last 6 months; • D&I budgets and resources have been cut down, D&I leaders have been furloughed, let go or diverted to other parts of the business; • Women and people of colour have proportionally been affected more severely by the crisis and the long term impact of being away from work for such a long period of time in terms of wellbeing, and re-skilling needs concerted and decisive action; • The industry has adapted and transformed in a phenomenal way, but has lost many talented and diverse employees: thousands of employees from Europe have not returned to the UK from their home countries, many women are still on furlough and are unlikely to return when the furlough scheme ends in October, and many more have faced unemployment; • We need to put insightful and robust data at the core of how we deal with D&I. The lack of data is one of the most glaring weaknesses and the biggest opportunity highlighted by the research. To ensure that organisations’ policies, protocols and actions are relevant to all employees, and to avoid bias becoming further engrained, it is crucial that responses are based on a clear understanding of the challenges faced by different groups of people, and what

5 underpins them. Without data, insight and deep understanding we are shooting in the dark; we must fix this; • Evidence suggests that corporate boards are more likely to reach quicker decisions with less diversity, since diversity has been found to contribute to more robust discussions and delayed decision making. There is therefore the potential for this crisis to impact on corporate board diversity by stagnating it at current or lower level in order to limit conflict and accelerate speed of action; • The BLM movement has started courageous and difficult conversations about the lived experiences of people of colour. 15 companies across hospitality, travel and leisure have signed the Race at Work Charter, over 30 people have joined the Race and Ethnicity in HTL Committee set up by WiHTL in June this year and over 500 leaders have joined the Race and Ethnicity series of webinars organised by WiHTL in partnership with ENAR (European Network Against Racism), BITC (Business in the Community) and Greene King. This is a good start, but we need more leaders to join this conversation and commit to moving from good intent to meaningful action; • Key issues need to be monitored with the intersectional lens of ethnicity and gender, so that ethnic minority women who are often ‘invisible’ in the workplace and to policy makers can have their issues spotlighted, voices heard, and where necessary, the appropriate support provided. Women and people from ethnic minorities (through existing employee-led networks) need to be included and consulted in decision making around Covid-19 response; • While the research clearly shows that the priority for leaders has rightly been and continues to be the survival and strength of their businesses, many of them want to get things right and have reaffirmed their commitment to creating inclusive environments. Over 2,000 leaders have joined the Inclusive Leader Programme (ILP) across the WiHTL Collaboration Community for

a journey of discovery, awareness and action to tackle conscious and unconscious bias, learn how to lead hybrid teams in an inclusive way, shift from talk to action. As leaders we have a difficult task ahead in what is a seismic change to the way we live and work. It is fundamental that individuals engage and commit to listen, learn and act for the good of our industry. I continue to be impressed by the resilience demonstrated by the human resources teams across our industry and their unwavering determination to get things right for their people, customers and brand. They deserve our admiration and support. This is not the time to slow down our individual and collaborative efforts towards creating more inclusive environments. This crisis might be the catalyst for more positive gendered and ethnic change if we are able to harness the benefits and mitigate the risks. This is the time to invest in diverse talent, to create sustainable outputs and to eliminate inequalities. It is not just a question of moral justice, it is a matter of competitive advantage in the face of huge adversity and uncertainty. My personal thanks go to Elliott Goldstein at The MBS Group and Katy Bennett at PwC for conducting the research and being long term supporters and advocates of WiHTL’s mission to make a positive difference to 5 million women and people from ethnic minorities across hospitality, travel and leisure globally by 2025.

Tea Colaianni

Founder & Chair, WiHTL




e at PwC are delighted to be contributing to this report. The analysis and perspectives provide invaluable insight into how far the hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) sector have come on diversity and inclusion and, crucially, how to accelerate progress. The closures, travel restrictions and financial losses resulting from Covid-19 mean that inclusion and diversity might not always be front of management’s mind. But we believe that they’ve never been more critical. Key priorities include managing the impact of reduced hours and job losses on the most economically vulnerable workers, many of whom are women or people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. Clearly, there are tough calls to be made within businesses facing severe stress. But it’s important to ensure that these decisions are informed and fair from an inclusion and diversity perspective. If not, it is not just workers, but workforce cohesion and consumer brands that will suffer. Similarly, many parents and carers working from home or on furlough have faced significant challenges in looking after loved ones, while carrying out their professional responsibilities and safeguarding their wellbeing. Understanding, communication, and support from employers are vital. How, then, have HTL organisations risen to these challenges and what does this tell us about how to strengthen inclusion and diversity? To find out, we surveyed 1,500 HTL employees, including women, carers and people from BAME communities. The questions explored their experiences over these difficult past few months, the extent to which they felt supported by their employers, and whether they felt their safety was being sufficiently protected as businesses began to open up. With Black Lives Matter heightening the focus on racial discrimination, we also asked employees about their organisation’s response to the movement and its aims.

To employers’ credit, many employees were positive about their experience. But a significant proportion were not. Many felt forgotten through long months of furlough and unsafe as they started going back to work. Underlying issues included a lack of data to inform the impact of decisions in areas such as furlough or redundancy on potentially vulnerable sections of the workforce. It’s difficult to say whether decisions are fair without this information. We conclude the chapter by outlining what we see as the lessons learned and the way forward from here. Yes, the pandemic has been a test for inclusion and diversity. But it could also prove to be a turning point. I am convinced that not only will workers benefit from being part of genuinely inclusive and diverse organisations, but that these companies can rebound more quickly and more strongly as a result. If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this research, please feel free to get in touch.

Katy Bennett

People and Organisation Director PwC UK



he MBS Group is delighted to once again partner with WiHTL and PwC to create this unique report, a first-of-its-kind publication looking at the impact of Covid-19 on diversity and inclusion in the hospitality, travel and leisure sector. The last six months have been the most turbulent and destructive period for the hospitality, travel and leisure sector since the second world war. Few could have predicted that businesses across our sector would have no customers, zero revenue and governmentimposed restrictions on every aspect of their business. Faced with this unprecedented disruption, organisations in our sector have acted with pace and determination to ensure survival. Overall, our sector can be immensely proud of the creativity, agility and strength we have demonstrated since the outset of Covid-19. Against this most difficult of backdrops, it is sad – but understandable – that diversity and inclusion has slipped down the list of corporate priorities. At the start of 2020, as a sector we were all celebrating the real strides being made to create and maintain diverse leadership across most companies in our sector. Now, sadly, Covid-19 has eroded many of these gains – and, across the sector, the full impact of Covid-19 on diversity and inclusion is only just emerging. Strong female or ethnic minority role models have exited, budgets to achieve D&I goals have been slashed, D&I has become less of a priority for the board, and businesses are not collecting the vital data needed to measure the impact of Covid-19 on their business’ diversity. Ultimately, our view at The MBS Group is simple: businesses that fail to prioritise D&I – especially now – will suffer as they find themselves outrun by their more forward-thinking competitors, whose leadership is fully representative of their consumer base. The case for diversity has never been stronger than now: as we move into the next phases of Covid-19, organisations will need creativity and varied insight as they rebuild their business models and re-orientate themselves to rapidly changing customer needs.

However, the current crisis possibly presents an opportunity to move the dial positively on D&I. Inevitable restructures could enable new and diverse talent to emerge. Flexible working, and a heightened understanding of employees’ lives, could remove barriers to progression women have traditionally faced. The BLM movement could have acted as a catalyst to drive real change on how our sector thinks about race and ethnicity. As a sector, we do have the opportunity to turn Covid-19 into a watershed moment. The readiness with which organisations participated in this research – despite the turmoil of the industry – demonstrates the sector’s willingness to understand how Covid-19 has impacted this vital area. My personal thanks to all the leaders who took the time out of their extremely busy schedules to be interviewed for this research – I am inspired by your individual and collective achievements over the past period. At The MBS Group, we are proud to have championed diversity in the HTL sector for over thirty years. I hope this report gives some insight into the long-term effects of this extraordinary period, and provides guidance for leaders looking to increase their focus on diversity and inclusion.

Elliott Goldstein Managing Partner The MBS Group



Executive Summary


his first-of-its-kind report from The MBS Group, WiHTL and PwC finds that Covid-19 will have a long-term impact on diversity and inclusion in the hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) sector. Based on conversations with over 60 of the sector’s leading businesses, as well as a survey of 1,500 HTL employees, our research shows that women and those from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to have been negatively impacted by Covid-19 than their male and/or white counterparts – and that immediate action must be taken to guard against further unintended negative consequences. Over the last few years, the HTL sector has made real strides on diversity and inclusion, increasing female and ethnic minority representation across all senior leadership levels and entry‑level positions. PROGRESS 2018-2019 Level

% women



28.9% (up 5.3%)

6.4% (up 4.6%)

Executive Committee

27.2% (up 1.8%)

3.4% (up 1.4%)

Direct Reports

37.7% (up 1.7%)

4.8% (up 1.1%)

Source: From Intention to Action: Diversity in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure, The 2020 WiHTL Annual Report

However, this report shows that Covid-19 may have reversed some of this progress, and that many senior women and those from ethnic minority backgrounds have been impacted more by Covid-19 responses in HTL than their male and/or white counterparts. Significantly, we find that whilst many leaders in the sector have a good understanding of the risks to their D&I agenda, most leaders have not taken tangible action to mitigate the impact.

77% of businesses reported that D&I has remained a priority or become a higher priority since Covid-19. However: • Only 15% of businesses reported that D&I has been raised at board meetings since the outset of the crisis; • PwC research found that a higher proportion of women have been furloughed, put on reduced hours or made redundant (65%) than men (56%) • PwC research found that 67% of those from ethnic minorities have been furloughed, put on reduced hours or made redundant, compared to 62% of white colleagues • Only 15% of businesses interviewed have measured the impact of temporary action (such as furlough) on female or ethnic minority employees, and only 6% have measured the impact of redundancies, or potential redundancies. The risk to employee health, the emergence of flexible/home working, and the increased profile of HRDs around the decision-making during this period has heightened leaders’ awareness of the issues associated with diversity and inclusion. Indeed, 44% of businesses reported that D&I has been a higher priority for their business since

9 the outset of Covid-19, with 33% of businesses saying it has remained as important as pre-Covid. However, despite this heightened awareness of the D&I agenda, our research found little evidence of specific policy or interventions around D&I during this period. ‘What gets measured, gets done’ has been a central message of all our previous reports on D&I in the HTL sector. Worryingly, however, one issue that underpins our findings once again is the lack of meaningful data. Across the sector, businesses have not measured – or do not have the data required to measure – the impact of their people policies, such as furloughing and redundancy programmes, on women and those from ethnic minorities. As a result, very few companies know the exact impact that Covid-19 has had on diversity in their business. While HTL leaders are not deliberately taking actions that impact negatively on gender and racial diversity, without measuring the impact, it is impossible to know, and indeed, address. Looking ahead, the lack of accurate and timely data will act as a key blocker to long-term progress on diversity and inclusion in the HTL sector. Additionally, existing imbalances and discrepancies that exist in the HTL businesses have been exacerbated by Covid-19. For instance, certain functions, such as finance – that have been considered ‘business critical’ (and therefore, fewer employees made redundant or furloughed) — are traditionally dominated by male leaders. Similarly, more women have accepted voluntary redundancy packages than men due to caring responsibilities, or because they believe their roles (such as marketing, HR or legal) will be more easily transferrable to other sectors less impacted by Covid-19. Our report indicates that Covid-19 will likely have a long-term impact on diversity in the sector. Firstly, restructures and voluntary redundancy schemes have decreased the number of visible female and ethnic minority role models in the sector, which are long understood to play a key role in motivating diverse employees to progress and encouraging diverse candidates to enter the industry.

Secondly, cost-cutting measures have meant that many of the incredible initiatives designed to champion diversity and increase representation have been paused or had their budgets cut. D&I budgets in many businesses have been cut completely, and D&I professionals furloughed and/ or made redundant. Additionally, at graduate/ entry level, as the HTL sector has been one of the hardest hit by Covid-19, the most high potential diverse talent may well choose to look to less high‑risk sectors in the future. However, despite these backwards steps there are shoots of hope. Covid-19 has shown businesses that flexible and remote working policies can be highly effective. As the lack of flexible working policies has historically been a barrier to progression for women, this development could wave in a new era for those with responsibilities such as childcare. Moreover, Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on those from minority ethnic communities – combined with the Black Lives Matter movement – has increased the awareness of issues such as systemic racism and ethnic minority representation. This report also measures how women and employees from ethnic minority backgrounds feel about the last six months. Notably, 71% of employees in the sector have felt supported by their employer during Covid-19. Worryingly, however, fewer women and employees from ethnic minorities share this view. This report also highlights what leaders can do to increase their focus on D&I. Most notably, leaders should make an intentional effort to understand the impact of Covid-19 on diversity in their business. Once identified, strategies can be put in place to avoid or mitigate any negative effects of the pandemic, such as a decline in gender and ethnic minority representation or a sudden lack of role models. In making an intentional and concerted effort to factor D&I into current and future decision-making around Covid-19, companies will avoid being outrun by more forward-thinking competitors as we move into the next chapter of this pandemic.



Backward step or a catalyst for change?

Has diversity and inclusion been a priority during Covid-19? The world has changed more than we could ever have imagined since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with our hospitality, travel and leisure sector being hit harder than most. During this time, HTL leaders have responded with creativity, agility and strength to ensure business survival. Amid this disruption, D&I has understandably slipped down the corporate agenda.

To understand the scale of this shift, over the last few months The MBS Group has conducted extensive interviews with more than 60 CEOs, Chairs and HR Directors drawn from across the industry. Through these discussions, we have been able to uncover the extent to which the sector’s leaders have taken into account the impact of the pandemic on their female employees and employees from ethnic minority backgrounds.



Key findings The data • Just 15% of businesses interviewed have measured the impact of temporary actions (such as furlough) on women or employees from ethnic minority backgrounds

• Just 15% of companies report that D&I has been raised at Board meetings regularly over the last period; 42% say it has come up infrequently, and 43% say it has not at all

• 89% of companies interviewed anticipate reducing their workforces. 50% have already made redundancies, 17% have entered into consultation and the remaining 23% anticipate making redundancies soon

• On balance, most companies report that as they focus on survival, they have not received any pressure to perform on D&I from shareholders during the crisis – a significant shift compared to the beginning of 2020

• 6% of those companies that have made redundancies, or have entered into consultations, have measured the impact specifically on women or employees from ethnic minority backgrounds

• Most leaders interviewed felt their company had not mounted a sufficiently strong response to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020

• 63% of companies self-report that they have made provisions for childcare or other caring responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic • On average, HTL leaders rate the relative priority of D&I over the period since March at 3.4 (on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is high) • 44% think D&I has been a higher priority for their business than pre-crisis; 33% say it is about the same and 23% say it has been a lower priority

• On balance, more HTL leaders than not believe that they are now more likely to offer remote/flexible working policies going forward as a result of changes during the pandemic • Overall, there is a belief that the changes resulting from the crisis could present an opportunity to improve diversity in the sector in the future (50% think it likely; 37% believe it is possible)




The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened leaders’ awareness of key issues associated with diversity and inclusion. Very practically, the risk to employee health overall has forced employers to think empathically and holistically about their wider workforce. Homeworking has given leaders a greater insight into their teams’ personal lives, and there is also more pressure than ever from consumers to ‘do the right thing.’ Additionally, the increased prominence of HRDs around the decision-making table has ensured that the people agenda has been front and centre of Covid-19 response policies.

As has been a core message in each of our previous joint reports examining D&I in hospitality, travel & leisure, ‘what gets measured, gets done’. While it is clear that leaders within the HTL sector are not deliberately taking actions that impact negatively on gender and racial diversity, without measuring the impact, it is impossible to know.

This awareness was clear in our interviews with leaders: from across the sector, two-thirds of those we spoke to reported that D&I has been remained a priority throughout Covid-19, or has become a higher priority in the period. However, it appears that this heightened awareness has so far not always been translated into action – often for very understandable reasons such as focus on business survival. Our research suggests that, on balance, most companies: • have not measured the impact of furlough on women or employees from ethnic minority backgrounds; • have not measured the impact of planned or realised redundancy programmes on women or employees from ethnic minority backgrounds; • have not seen D&I discussed regularly, if at all, at Board meetings during the crisis; and • have not evolved their D&I strategy or implemented new interventions since the start of Covid-19.

Anecdotally, based on our conversations with the sector’s leaders, and as borne out in the evidence of PwC’s survey of 1,500 employees, it is apparent that employees from ethnic minority backgrounds are likely being disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. COVID-19 RESPONSES ARE EXAGGERATING EXISTING IMBALANCES

Despite significant progress in recent years, there are varying levels of diversity across different functions in HTL (as with other sectors). The IT function, for example, still tends to be male-dominated across the sector, while Black, Asian and minority ethnic representation tends to decrease at the most senior leadership levels. As such, when HTL companies have made large-scale interventions in response to the coronavirus crisis, such as the furlough scheme, their impact can sometimes be felt unevenly. UNDOING PROGRESS

In the last few years, the HTL sector has made some very positive steps to achieving diversity across gender and ethnicity. However, our conversations revealed that many of the decisions necessary for business survival in the last six months may have undone – or will undo – that progress.


14 For example, some leaders told us that they had been forced to make every graduate employee that had been in the business for under two years redundant – a group that likely included lots of diverse employees, given the prevalence of the diversity agenda in recruitment processes over the last two years. Moreover, entry-level schemes designed to drive diversity in the industry – particularly in roles with a dearth of female talent, such as pilots or engineers in aviation – have been scaled back. Programmes like the excellent Amy Johnson Initiative over the last few years have been key tools in attracting women to the aviation industry – but now are unlikely to yield significant fresh female talent in the near future. Indeed, given the state of the aviation sector – as an example – it is questionable whether the sector would be attractive to young, female talent in any event. D&I BUDGETS

Since Covid-19, businesses in HTL have been dramatically cutting costs in a bid for survival. As a result, D&I budgets across the sector have been significantly reduced. Our conversations revealed that – in many cases – D&I leads had been furloughed or made redundant. This is problematic for two reasons. Firstly, it demonstrates the sector’s perception that D&I is not a core business priority. Secondly, it means that there was no one to champion D&I throughout the Covid-19 response process in many businesses. Additionally, a plethora of D&I activity planned for 2020 was put on hold or cancelled – which undoubtedly removes momentum from the agenda. RESTRUCTURING OPPORTUNITIES

Despite budget cuts and backwards steps, there are green shoots of hope. For example, the mass restructuring of the HTL industry will provide an opportunity for businesses to rebuild with diversity at front of mind. Indeed, one key blocker to progress in creating diverse leadership teams is the slow rate at

which senior leadership roles have historically churned. This is especially true in functions such as operations, where incumbents have often been in post in senior roles for long periods of time, preventing progression opportunities for diverse talent in the layers beneath. Undoubtedly, over the coming months, many businesses in our sector will be forced to restructure to reflect their new trading reality – and as companies rebuild teams and organisational structures, it will be possible for different, more diverse, leaders to emerge. One hotel company confirmed that it is seeing this time as an opportunity to promote existing diverse talent into recently available positions and a key priority. “You can’t solve your diversity issue by trying to hire a more diverse workforce,” the company’s CEO told us, “you have to build it. I’ve put this challenge to the business as we restructure postcrisis. I want to show our commitment to our diverse workforce.” Previous research from The MBS Group found that restructuring with diversity in mind is currently at the top of the agenda for NEDs. One Chair of a hospitality business commented: “It is imperative to bring in as much diversity of thought as possible on a regular basis. Throughout this crisis, most businesses will have been cost-cutting and reorganising – which brings with it another moment to insist on increasing diversity when it comes to rebuilding.” However, a few respondents expressed their hesitancy at pointedly hiring diverse candidates, or developing and promoting existing diverse talent, during this time. In the current commercial landscape, with many businesses struggling for survival, a few respondents told us that proven experience was more important to them than diversity of thought. “This is not the time to hire development candidates,” one company said. Especially in key areas such as finance, the pool of experienced leaders is overwhelmingly older and white.


One senior executive told us that they had stuck a note to their laptop that read ‘the way you treat your people now will define your brand forever’. Covid-19 has certainly fast-tracked the conversation – among consumers, employees and executives alike – around how a company treats its people. The Black Lives Matter movement exacerbated this further, shining a light on the lack of diversity and instances of racism in the corporate sphere. Now more than ever, a company’s people policies, its diversity credentials and its stance on key moral issues are being factored into consumers’ purchasing decisions. Moreover, businesses know that doing right by their people will give them access to the best talent in the market. As such, most respondents in our research told us that they were more aware of D&I from a moral and ethical standpoint than they were prior to Covid-19, due to the focus on people throughout the crisis and the increased scrutiny from customers since the explosion of the BLM movement. One notable exception here is in aviation. Airlines have – so far – not been under the same level of scrutiny from customers, due to the more immediate concerns around flight cancellations and refunds. One respondent from an airline explained: “Our relationship with the customer is in such turmoil that issues around diversity or ‘doing the right thing’ get drowned out in the noise of customers asking for refunds or waiting days to get their flights changed.” NEW WAYS OF WORKING

In the HTL sector and beyond, Covid-19 has transformed the way we work. One point that resonated strongly across our conversations was shrinking team sizes and their impact on representation and inclusion. Some respondents told us that smaller teams had accelerated inclusion and amplified the diverse voices left around the table. One female leader commented: “with fewer people in

the teams we focused more on each other’s wellbeing, and we were more attuned to topics such as diversity. I found that, as a woman, my voice was better heard.” Conversely, other senior executives reported the opposite to be true in their business. One executive explained how her company’s crisis team had not been diverse at all, consisting of similar viewpoints, leading to groupthink and increasing the chance of unconscious bias. “For the first five weeks it was the CEO, CHRO, CFO, COO and our chief legal officer making the calls. After some time, we looked around and realised – this isn’t going to work. So then we shifted.” There has also been a shift to online working, as businesses world-over swapped face-toface meetings with virtual communication via programmes like Teams, Zoom or Slack. Some respondents told us that they found online working encouraged inclusivity and flattened the hierarchies and social codes that exist within an office. One executive took this view, positing that “everyone’s equal when you’re a tile on a screen.” By contrast, others took the opposite view, suggesting that online meetings had stifled diverse voices – and have led to more one-on-one conversations amongst cliques, which have been harder to access by a broader group of voices. DIVERSITY AS A LOWER SHAREHOLDER PRIORITY?

Perhaps most pressingly, our research indicated that diversity has fallen down the list of priorities for shareholders. Previous research by The MBS Group found that, prior to Covid-19, D&I was at the top of the agenda for investors in HTL, who viewed gender, race and ethnic representation as a commercial imperative. However, since Covid-19, we have found that businesses in the sector, perhaps understandably, have not been placed under pressure on diversity by their boards: “Any pressure has completely gone,” one executive told us. “I think all our shareholders care about is our survival.”



The impact of Covid-19 on women in HTL

How women in the industry have been impacted by Covid-19 Over the last few years, the HTL industry has made great strides to increase female representation, both at senior leadership level and in the general workforce. However, research from The MBS Group finds that gender diversity and inclusion has slipped down the corporate agenda since the outset of Covid-19.

This chapter also goes beyond the data, and highlights stories of women in the industry who have lost their jobs or been put at risk during Covid-19. Thanks to these interviews from WiHTL, we are able to better understand how Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted women in the sector.



Key themes SENIORITY

Existing discrepancies within both businesses and society have meant that women have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 in the HTL sector. This is largely due to the lack of female leaders in senior positions. As one respondent put it: “More females were furloughed in our business, because they tend to be in the lower-paid, flexible roles.” In our last report, From Intention to Action: diversity in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure, published in February 2020, we found that most businesses in the HTL sector were not on track to reach 33% female representation across all three senior leadership levels (Board, Executive Committee and Direct Reports) by the end of this year, and that there was also a significant lack of women in key strategic roles. As such, it stands to reason that leaders reported that more women were made redundant or put on furlough because the roles they held were less senior, and therefore less central to business survival. FUNCTION

Covid-19 is likely to have a long-term impact on gender diversity across the HTL sector, in part due to female representation across certain functions. This plays out in a number of ways. Firstly, with a few exceptions, roles traditionally dominated by men have been less likely to be furloughed or made redundant than those dominated by women. The finance function is a prime example of this – central to business survival and traditionally held by men. By contrast, functions such as marketing and communication (often held by women) were deemed expendable during the height of the crisis, or else their duties absorbed more easily into other departments.

“The people we made redundant just happened to be women,” one executive told us, “because their roles were less specifically skills-based.” One notable exception is the HR function, which has become more visible during Covid-19 and is historically dominated by women. Looking ahead, we can expect this period to enhance the HR function’s status at the top table, and perhaps we will see more NEDs with an HR background in the years and months ahead, which will be a positive step for diversity in the sector. Leaders indicated that the roles occupied by women are more likely to be furloughed or made redundant – but they also told us that women are more likely to take voluntary redundancy, because of the transferrable nature of their roles. Historically, the HTL sector has driven representation by hiring diverse candidates into non-sector specific roles, such as HR, finance, marketing, communications, GC, data and IT. With the HTL sector in turmoil, many leaders have reported that female and diverse candidates in these key, but non-sector-specific roles, may choose to exit the business in favour of lower-risk industries. If this does happen, given these female appointees are often the only female voices around the table, the sector will take a significant step back in female representation across at least two of the three leadership levels (Executive Committee and Direct Reports).



Covid-19 has fast-tracked the conversation around flexible working policies, and in many ways looks set to wave in a new era of more inclusive, flexible working practices. The lack of meaningful opportunities for flexible working has historically been a real and, in some cases, unmoveable barrier to achieving diverse leadership. However, the last few months have shown us all that remote and flexible working is effective – possibly even more effective than we originally thought – and should no longer be a barrier to progression. One executive explained the journey his business had been on: “Before this, we had never entertained flexible working. Now, we’re much more open to people doing roles at home, and there’s an acceptance that people can be productive over Zoom or Teams.” Another senior leader agreed, commenting: “We’ve probably fast-forwarded five years’ worth of research on flexible working, and what that could do.” However, there are a number of issues around flexible working that may lead to backwards steps for diversity and inclusion. One such issue is that people on zero-hour contracts – designed specifically to support flexible working patterns and often held by women – were disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 response policies. A number of leaders reported that every person on a zero-hour contract had been made redundant in their business in a bid to drive efficiency in their cost-cutting measures. This is problematic in a number of ways: not only because of the knock-on effect it will have on gender diversity in a business, but also because of what it implies about the value of its employees who work flexibly.

Another key factor to consider around flexible working is the importance of leading from the top. In our previous reports, we found that one key factor in encouraging D&I was ensuring executives demonstrate flexible working themselves. However, with businesses rightly focused on survival and establishing new ways of trading in very short time-frames, some leaders have not been able to adopt flexible working habits themselves – rather, working around the clock, albeit from home. Throughout our conversations we also became aware of some businesses which do not anticipate continuing flexible working policies. The focus on creativity and teamwork that exists in the HTL sector has caused some businesses already to roll back their remote and flexible working options – insisting team members return to the office. Additionally, some businesses felt it was not ‘fair’ that colleagues working on the front line were not able to work flexibly, while those in head office were. VOLUNTARY FURLOUGH

Another area which has disproportionately impacted women is around voluntary furlough. Our respondents reported that more women than men requested to be furloughed, with many citing childcare commitments as the main reason. The consequence of this could be significant, as taking time out of work during this period may have a long-term impact on the development and, therefore, the chances of progression of these women. While Covid-19 has been a highly stressful time, it has also been one of immense learning and personal development for many in the industry – the sector looks different now, and different skillsets are needed. Those who have not been working during this period may find themselves at a disadvantage when returning to work for not having led through this period.



Case studies


ooking behind the data, over the course of the last few months, WiHTL interviewed five women who have lost their jobs – or been put at risk – during the Covid-19 crisis. Here, they share their stories.

Marketing Manager, Hotels I am the Marketing Manager for a small UK hospitality business. All of my studies focused on travel and tourism and I have worked my way up from a front-line position to the role I have today. After a successful time in the company, I returned from maternity leave and I was considering resigning from my role: I was struggling with childcare as I had no flexibility at all. The culture in the company is ‘old school’ and no-one had been offered flexible working, so it was to my boss’s credit that when I did resign, he championed my cause with the senior leadership team and agreed to me working part‑time and from home on a trial basis. Before Covid hit, the trial was working very well and I was more productive working part‑time and from home than if I’d been full-time in the office. Once the impact of the pandemic began, nearly all employees were furloughed and 90% of the teams have subsequently been made redundant. I am one of the lucky ones as I am still on furlough.

I am very worried about the uncertainty that now lies ahead from a company perspective. As my boss has now been made redundant, I am even more worried the culture will revert and all the progression made in allowing me to work flexibly will disappear, forcing me to resign and leave the company regardless of what the future holds. If I do need to move companies, I cannot see myself working outside of the industry. My heart is in hospitality and I just couldn’t get excited about another industry.

21 Head of Marketing, Travel I have worked in the HTL industry my entire career, for global and international companies. My most recent role was Head of Marketing for most of my company’s brand portfolio. My Covid story is perhaps slightly different to others, but I think it highlights the factors that impact women in their careers in ‘normal’ times that have now been exacerbated by the situation. When the pandemic struck, our CEO was very proactive and brought the leadership teams together to forge a survival strategy. Although I was never furloughed, the implementation of the scheme came as a great relief as it allowed the company some breathing space to make critical decisions. Unfortunately, even with the furlough scheme, the company needed to restructure and make redundancies. During this time, I was quite taken aback by the ‘old school’ mentality shown by the business. This included assumptions that women who had recently returned from maternity leave would prefer to remain on furlough rather than return with no validation. It felt as if the selection criteria for redundancies was based on willingness and opportunity to work every given hour rather than performance or quality of contribution. This impacted both men and women who had commitments that meant they could not do this. In my view this was a reactive and short-term approach that will impact the company’s ability to recover.

At one point, the suggestion was made to merge certain functions, including the marketing teams, which resulted in my role being put at risk as only one Head of Marketing would now be needed in the new structure. As part of this process, I found out that my male counterpart who had similar experience, responsibility and company tenure was being paid £20K a year more than me. I was offered the role but to be honest, I felt so undervalued as a result of this revelation I decided to take voluntary redundancy instead. I love this industry and it has been hard to see how badly it has been impacted. It has also been frustrating to see companies adopt shortterm tactical approaches that create ‘chaos’ and a lack of direction. I believe this will mean recovery for the sector as a whole will be slower. Covid is a long-term challenge and we need to take a long-term view. The pandemic has given companies the opportunity to think differently and be more progressive and creative, but to harness this opportunity leaders need to take a breath and ‘step back’. It is also critical that companies move away from a purely internal focus and move to collaborate, come together, and help the whole industry recover more quickly.


22 L&D Manager, Restaurants I have worked in HTL for over 10 years in a range of HR roles. I had worked for a previous business for nearly six years and was headhunted for a role in another organisation in 2019. The business I joined was an exciting organisation that had ambitious growth plans for 2020 and beyond. Of course, this was all stopped with the onset of Covid-19. When I was put on furlough, the first feeling I had was relief. I had a central role that required us to visit sites on a daily basis and the prospect of travelling on public transport in highly populated areas was causing my family and me immense worry and anxiety. To be honest, this is why I initially felt relieved at being on furlough. The communication I received from my company during my time on furlough was mixed, we had an online platform where peers and friends still in the business shared experiences and news, but we had no official updates to us directly from our MD on a regular basis. Being on furlough meant you could feel isolated. I have a great support network but not everyone has this. Communication is key and it’s so important for leaders in such an unprecedented time to still be ‘visible’ and check in with all their teams, whatever their personal situation - even when there is nothing to say, tell people that. When the company came to think about redundancies, I was one of the people to be let go, regardless of my potential value add to the business. I felt frustrated and upset – not because of the why but the how. I was dealt with very professionally and in an appropriate way but not really with much emotional care.

I have questioned how I feel about the HTL industry and how ‘vulnerable’ it is, I had never viewed it in this way. After having always worked in the sector, I started to apply for jobs outside the industry to see where else I could take my experience. However, after having been offered a role in a manufacturing company, I realised that although the industry is vulnerable and will take a while to recover, I am still hugely passionate about it and no other sector has come close to igniting that feeling. However, I worry about a talent drain from the industry, especially for young people and women who have not had time to ‘build up’ this passion. I know of young people who have been made redundant from front-line roles who feel ‘stung’ by the industry and will not come back easily. My advice to organisations in the sector would be to emphasise the need to support and view people as individuals as we start to rebuild the industry. One thing the pandemic has shown us is the importance of family and work-life integration. People are workers, parents and carers amongst many other roles – celebrate this and be flexible and adapt to help people return and thrive in the best possible way.

23 Sales Manager, Hotels I have always worked in the industry in a variety of roles across hotels, travel and entertainments. In my last role in my company, 2019 was such a fantastic year and we were very much looking forward to 2020 and the opportunities ahead. We started to see cancellations early in the year but by March we saw an absolute collapse of demand. The decision on who was furloughed was based on the level of government financial support across the various geographic regions. Also, my team was international, so the local furlough and lockdown rules meant we had people from the same team having very different experiences. For example, I had a member of the team who lived in a country where the schools were closed down earlier than the UK and she was struggling to make it work. Therefore, she asked for some greater flexibility in her working day and to take some holiday time. When the government in that country brought in their furlough scheme she was placed on furlough as it was assumed that this would suit her because of her earlier request. This was probably done with the best intentions in mind, but it wasn’t what she wanted.

On top of this, many of the women in my team had become the sole breadwinner in their household due to their partners being made redundant in the wake of Covid. In many of the 1:1s I held with my team, they said they struggled with the relentless intensity of Zoom and virtual calls. For those who were furloughed from my team, I knew they felt ‘left out’’. I created a call every two weeks with the whole team that only had a social aspect so that the team could remain connected. In hindsight it would have been helpful if the company had provided guidance on helping leaders manage the mental health of their teams over the last few months, however I completely understand that each team was stretched and there wasn’t the capacity to do this. I think the HTL industry will have a talent drain of people from many of the corporate functions as the skills are so transferrable to other industries. I understand the commercial need to reduce cost, but I think perhaps the industry has cut too deep and it will make recovery harder when it does come.

For those who weren’t furloughed, I think everyone felt a huge pressure to make themselves ‘essential’ and ‘worth keeping’. This perceived pressure combined with the short-term nature of decisions put my team under considerable strain, in particular the mothers in my team as they tried to balance childcare responsibilities with this need to be ‘always on’.


24 Digital Manager, Hospitality I have worked in many different sectors, both client and agency side, before taking my first role in the HTL industry looking after the digital strategy for a UK based hospitality operation. When everything closed down due to lockdown, one third of our operations closed and the vast majority of employees were furloughed, including myself. The communication during this time was not great and I felt totally abandoned and of no value to the organisation. There was lack of leadership and it felt as if there was no real effort from the company to keep its people engaged. In fact, the company’s values very quickly went out of the window when the crisis hit. During this time, I also saw my peers and colleagues who were still working really struggling to keep up with home commitments and working at the same time. I think there needed to be much more of a focus on supporting and guiding managers on engaging and caring for their teams in such difficult circumstances. It has now transpired that most people who were furloughed have been made redundant. I really worry about the people who are remaining and their wellbeing. I think they will be overstretched and will suffer burn out as workload grows and the loss of knowledge and experience becomes more evident. Many people who work in my area are not from the industry originally and this experience will mean most of them will look to other roles and sectors even if they have not been made redundant.

It has also struck me that many of the functions that have been cut or reduced, like marketing and HR, are predominantly female, meaning a further drain on female talent across the sector. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the future pipeline for female leaders but also the loss of role models across the industry, at least for a period of time. Now we are in the wake of the pandemic, I understand survival needs to be the key focus but I feel the leaders in this industry have taken their eyes off the future and the many opportunities to work in a more effective way. The world has changed with customers and employees now having different expectations; however, it feels like many industry leaders have reverted to their comfort zones and operational ‘basics’ to forge a way forward. This will not future proof the industry and I believe recovery will be slower as a result.




The impact of Covid-19 on employees from ethnic minority backgrounds in HTL

How employees from ethnic minority backgrounds in the industry have been impacted by Covid-19 The business case for ethnic and racial diversity has been made in the HTL sector – and significant progress has been made over the last few years. However, The MBS Group’s research finds that while leaders are attuned to many of the issues surrounding ethnic and

racial diversity, much of this understanding is not translating into action since the outset of Covid-19. This chapter also provides expert views from WiHTL, and looks at what businesses can do to become anti-racist organisations.





One of the biggest challenges the HTL sector faces in addressing challenges of ethnicity and race is a lack of good quality data to plan a course of action and measure progress. The prospect of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting is forcing some companies to seriously consider the data they hold and what they can do to improve it – however previous research from The MBS Group, WiHTL and PwC found that half of companies in our sector do not accurately measure racial and ethnic representation in their businesses.

Role models have long been considered vital in the journey to achieving representation – and this is especially true when considering ethnic and racial diversity. However, with many Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues being made redundant or furloughed during Covid-19, the number of visible role models has decreased across the industry – and will decrease further.

As a result, many leaders reported that they have not been able to measure how their furloughing or redundancy programmes have impacted the overall makeup of their business. A DISPROPORTIONATE IMPACT

Despite the distinct lack of data, leaders told us that, proportionally, employees from a ethnic minority background were more likely to have been furloughed or made redundant, due to the greater presence of those employees in the general workforce and the lack of ethnic diversity representation in senior roles. Indeed, our previous research found that despite 12.5% of the working age population coming from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background, representation at Board, Executive Committee and Direct Reports was much lower – 6.4%, 3.4% and 4.8%, respectively. FRANCHISE MODELS

A further contributing factor is the prevalence of franchise models in the HTL sector. One restaurant business told us that a large proportion of its franchisees are BAME. As almost all of its restaurants had to shut down, these communities were naturally disproportionally impacted, at least in the early phases of Covid-19.

From our conversations with leaders, we identified that businesses across HTL are not doing enough to protect these role models in their organisation. Black, Asian and minority ethnic role models exiting (particularly those individuals who businesses have previously invested in highlighting as diverse leaders) may have a significant long-term impact, affecting how current employees from a minority ethnic background see themselves within the business, and discouraging diverse candidates from entering the industry and applying for roles. With this in mind, one leader told us that they had pointedly avoided making role models redundant. “I went through the redundancies list,” they told us, “and took out the leaders from our BAME network programme.” Flexible working Covid-19 has proved to the HTL industry that remote and flexible working is effective and should no longer be a barrier to progression. Leaders across the board indicated a willingness to roll-out permanent flexible and remote working options – even once Covid-19 is over. This looks to be a step in the right direction for employees from ethnic minority communities, who are more likely to have caring responsibilities for elderly relative (according to research from the University of Leeds). Moreover, flexible working policies will help those with religious commitments, such as prayer patterns that might not be able to be accommodated in the office.



While not strictly related to Covid-19, the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests have come to define the last few months. Combined with disproportionate impact of the pandemic on ethnic minority communities, the BLM movement has caused a fundamental shift in the ways businesses think about racial and ethnic diversity in their organisations. Most leaders reported that BLM has fast-tracked conversations around racism in their business. In the corporate sphere, businesses have had to make quick decisions about how to respond, and have faced pressure and scrutiny from employees and customers alike on their own policies and behaviours. One key trend in our conversations was that businesses with exposure to the US had a much greater sensitivity to the issues raised by the BLM movement. Leaders from organisations which only operate in the UK did not approach the subject with as great a level of urgency as those in the US. One business – which has a head office in the US – commented: “BLM consumed us for two weeks. We had conversations, we listened, we tried to understand. I think the emotion people felt was exacerbated by the current Covid-19 situation, too.” In contrast, leaders who operate in the UK alone reported a much higher level of tentativeness. Almost all these respondents told us they did not feel completely comfortable that they had made exactly the right decision or responded in the right way to the BLM movement. Many told us of lengthy internal debates about which stance to take, or about whether to make an external statement. One executive articulated: “I think our leaders have struggled a bit on, ‘What should I do? What shouldn’t I do? What should I say? I’ve definitely noticed people struggling with it a bit.”

Some respondents told us that the levels of engagement in BLM had not been high from their workforce, and so responding was not high on their list of priorities. However, this probably reflects the whiteness of the workforce in those organisations – and is worth examining in and of itself. Indeed, one executive told us: “All our internal pressure was from Black employees, or employees with Black partners.” One hospitality business told us that the BLM movement had sparked a review of its entire business: “It felt so stark,” they told us, “and it made us realise that we have very few guests who come from a BAME background. Looking ahead, we have to ask ourselves: ‘What’s the guest segmentation? Why don’t BAME people come and stay with us? Have we got a broader issue here actually in our business that we’re not seeing?’” As an example of a positive step to come out of the BLM movement, one senior executive told us that it had established employee networks. “Employee networks are the way forward. Particularly, around race and ethnicity – as I think it’s often quite lonely as a black person. And actually bringing together a group of ethnically, racially-diverse people, who can together articulate a world view, and have that conversation with management - or just amongst themselves - feels like a good way forward.” UNDERSTANDING NOT TRANSLATING INTO ACTION

While the last six months – Covid-19 combined with the Black Lives Matter movement – have certainly accelerated the conversation around racial and ethnic diversity, we found little evidence of specific policy designed to tackle racism or encourage representation. Looking to the future, business leaders should examine ways to translate their new-found understanding of the importance of race into specific policy, and update their D&I strategies accordingly.



Expert views Joanna Aunon, Director at WiHTL, spoke to Sonia Meggie, Inclusion & Diversity Consultant at Business in the Community about what leaders can do to increase their focus on D&I during this time. Why is the collection and benchmarking of data so critical to effecting real change? The lack of any meaningful ethnicity data is a common theme and the biggest bugbear for professionals like me in the inclusion space. If you do not have accurate data, you cannot create a credible action plan or monitor progress. This is why capturing ethnicity data and publicising progress is one of the five commitments companies make when they sign the BITC’s Race at Work Charter.

want to be employed by an organisation that is visionary and proactive and also has their best interests at heart. Once the decision to act has been taken, the proof is always in the pudding and one of the first steps is to assign budget to any initiative. There is generally very little investment or budget assigned to race in the workplace and without the commitment of financial support, any action will be seen as ‘lip service’ and will serve only to reduce trust even further.

We know that collecting accurate data is a challenge, largely due to a lack of trust from employees to submit personal information such as ethnicity. What can companies and employers do to build more trust?

Often, the lack of trust also comes from the lack of role models in the organisation. Leaders also need to look at how they position, promote and support talent from an ethnic minority within the business as well.

It is key for an organisation and its leaders to effectively explain in an engaging way why the data is needed. However, any vision and communication need to be backed up with action. Businesses really need to think about where and how they position the importance of race and their commitment to change.

There may also be a natural distrust because of your experience as a person from an ethnic minority and how you may have been treated in the workplace, including bullying and harassment that has existed or continues to exist. If there is very little done in relation to bullying and harassment, then people are likely to think what’s the point if things keep going full circle regardless of what they’ve personally heard, experienced and seen?

How can organisations show their commitment to change? As I mentioned, the key thing organisations can do is to act. I think many people from ethnic minorities have reached a point where they have heard it takes time to make change for years and are now pressing for action. I think you’ll find that the response to the lack of action will be that time has run out via pushback from both your employees and your customers. Signing the BiTC Race at Work Charter is a good place to start. It is also important to compare yourself to others and to see how you are progressing and moving forward to build real trust. Employees

What can individuals do to drive the collection of accurate data? If you are from an ethnic minority and your boss or your organisation shows commitment and starts to actively listen, it is important to participate and speak up. So when there’s a staff survey, complete it .Where there are questions in any form about diversity and wellbeing, answer them and if you are asked to complete your personal data, don’t just go for the questions that you have to answer, answer all of them as

31 what gets counted gets done. If you do not take on that responsibility and opportunity of being able to share and be heard, then we are continuously at Groundhog Day trying to get this agenda moved forward. So, participate, speak up, go to network meetings as networks are only as strong as the numbers. If you do not participate, how can a network speak on your behalf or support amplify agendas if they do not have your participation, support or your input? With regards to budgets, the hospitality, travel and leisure industry has been decimated by Covid-19 and D&I budgets and teams have been cut significantly. Do you have any advice for companies and leaders that are truly committed to change but are struggling at the moment to provide a significant financial commitment? Commitment and trust start from the top. Putting D&I, and race in particular, high on the business agenda does not cost anything. For example, it is common for gender statistics to be fed into the board on a regular basis. Race also needs to have the same weight. Employees – and leaders, too – need to see that those above them are active sponsors and champions, whilst listening and engaging with people from across the organisation. For example, if a company has an employee resource group, members of the Executive Board need to join meetings regularly to effect real change. You need those with power and influence present to hear the reality of shared experiences and suggestions to make progress. In other words, the minority need to influence the majority. Leaders also need to be made accountable for change, whether through the achievement of targets or the success of initiatives implemented to make a difference. You can also be creative. For example, for employee networks that may have seen their budgets reduced, join and collaborate with networks from other companies. This can include working together to run an event, including the offering of food which is still the best way to get people to turn up to a network event!

We can see from the research, many companies in our sector do not feel they have responded to the BLM movement properly. Is it now too late for them to respond in an authentic way? Some companies chose not put a statement out or post the black square on Instagram on ‘black out Tuesday’. The reasons for this ranged from companies being honest they had not done the work, to companies not knowing what to do at this critical point. For any company, it is not too late to respond effectively and authentically. There are many quick wins so start now, do the work and gather your learning. Start with listening to your employees through doing focus groups and listening sessions. Start employee networks and join them to hear their worries, concerns and ideas. You can also conduct a staff survey and diversity audit. All of these are quick wins and have a minimal cost apart from time and commitment. On the back of the listening and internal learning, look to create an action plan that is specific and targeted. Share these plans with your employees and get their thoughts. Once an organisation has gone through these steps, it can plan its internal and external response. Any action plan must have depth and not become a ‘tick box’ exercise and initiatives must be considered holistically and not in isolation. For example, many companies will roll out unconscious bias training to leaders to show action, but not measure whether the training has had impact, like if a team has become more diverse or if the attrition of employees from an ethnic minority background has reduced. Also, I believe it should be called ‘conscious’ bias training as that’s what it is. This also means ‘safe’ spaces need to be created for leaders to work though potentially difficult conversations or themes that arise from the training. So, if you do (un)conscious bias training, I always say challenge yourself and do the Harvard implicit bias test at least two or three times a year. When you’ve done the test, check to see if there are any changes in your score and whether you can see if the training has had an impact.


32 The research shows people from an ethnic minority have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. What are your thoughts on this? The HTL sector has been severely impacted and if you think about who predominantly works in your space and who comes from minority backgrounds, whether it’s from a cleaner to front of house, you can see they have been disproportionately impacted either through being furloughed or being made redundant. Households are really feeling the impact, even before the pandemic, a Black African family had 10p for every £1 of wealth a white family had. The disproportionate impact on people from ethnic minorities has also meant there are many who are hurt and feeling quite bitter about the way they have been treated. However, if we can work together to try raise the issues and move this agenda forward, whilst ensuring that those voices are heard, your industry can start to build back better. What would be the impact for an organisation to do nothing? They will get left behind. Leaders needs to think about the risk to their business and understand where the momentum is and the intention of those who have decided that they’re going to do something. Right now, if you look, you’ll see that most organisations that have engaged more on diversity and are recruiting D&I professionals at a far more senior level, often reporting straight into the Board. Businesses are recognising that in order to remain competitive and profitable, they must ensure diversity and inclusion is just a normal, everyday part of achieving business success.

What can individuals do? Think about what you can do with your own space in your own platform. While you are an employee, you are also an individual, so use your influence. For example, if you see articles that are of interest, share them on LinkedIn and on your social media feed, you will be surprised by those that have seen or heard what you’ve done. Speak up, use your voice, use your space and amplify the message right now. And as for leaders, think about the influence and privilege you have and how you can best use your voice and platform, both internally and externally, to make a difference. So be an ally, be a sponsor and commit to continually listen and learn. More importantly, ensure that race and wellbeing is on your Executive agenda as a key business KPI so that you and your teams will be held to account. As a senior leader, if you are walking the talk from the top down, the business will follow.


Sonia Meggie has worked at BITC over the last seven years. She has led on Race Equality training, gender pay gap, diverse recruitment, mentoring, awards and diversity policies and strategies. She currently supports organisations such as Sky, Deloitte, Hachette, Michael Page, Tate and Pearson to name a few; helping them to understand their D&I strengths and identify business improvements, enabling them to re‑prioritise activities and rationalise their priorities. She helps organisations review their existing talent attraction strategy and recruitment principles to identify where bias may exist through processes or behaviours. Sonia is well networked and connected to senior leaders globally. Over the last 15 years Sonia has supported businesses with their employee engagement and outreach, and profiled hundreds of leaders on her panels in Parliament, Channel 4, BBC, ITV and the UK Supreme Court. Alongside her diversity role she runs an awardwinning social enterprise that is focused on empowering women, Black, Indian and Asian professionals and young people. She was shortlisted as Stylist Magazine’s Inspirational Woman of the Year and has won multiple awards and press for her inspirational and empowering work.



How can we become an anti‑racist organisation? One of the remarkable examples of the hospitality, travel and leisure industry coming together to educate, raise awareness and take action has been the development during the pandemic of a series of webinars designed to support leaders across HTL to drive forward race equality in the industry.

“How are we going to become anti-racist? – a great question I will start to ask when engaging our leaders. With only 2% women of colour in our business, we definitely have a problem,” said one attendee.

The series was developed in partnership with Greene King, the UK’s leading pub retailer and brewer and saw speakers from ENAR (European Network Against Racism) and Business in the Community (BiTC) address a range of key issues to tackle race equality in the workplace including an exploration of the barriers faced by women from ethnic minorities, how to create inclusive approaches to accommodate religious beliefs and practices, and practical insights into the importance of understanding how racism and discrimination at the interpersonal level impacts the mental health and wellbeing of employees.

In a poll run during the first webinar exploring the issues faced by women from ethnic minorities in the workplace, the problem faced by the HTL industry was made clear. 56% of attendees said we are not doing so well or we are doing poorly as an industry in terms of inclusion of women of colour. Strikingly, 72% said they have fewer than five women from diverse ethnic backgrounds in senior roles in their organisations.

In the first webinar, Juliana Wahlgren-Santos, Senior Advocacy Officer, ENAR, addressed what it means to be anti-racist: “racism is not something that can be tackled in a passive mode. You have to demonstrate action in order to tackle it. Racism is an issue where if you are not actively trying to change it, it will just continue. It’s a question of actively working to make sure everyone has the same privileges.” She shared that at an organisational level, becoming an anti-racist organisation means that the organisation works to actively denounce racist behaviour, taking action to dismantle systemic discrimination and institutionalised racism. Making a declaration to highlight an organisation is anti-racist was one piece of advice she shared that a company could do.


In terms of actions, ENAR talked about the importance of adopting an intersectional approach to remove the exclusion and inequality experienced by women of colour. They outlined a three-stage process that employers may want to apply: a) understand the issues at the different intersections for example gender and race b) work to transform the organisation c) empower women of colour Juliana shared the Woman of Colour journey from entering to exiting the organisation via the different stages of the honeymoon period, tokenism, microaggression, denial of racism and retaliation.

35 The “Problem” Woman of Colour in the Workplace White Leadership


Denial of Racism

Repetitive Injury & Microaggressions

• the Woman of Colour feels welcomed, needed, and happy

Tokenised Hire

The Woman of Colour enters the organisation

Reality • the Woman of Colour points out issues within the organisation • she tries to work within the organisation’s structure and policies • she pushes for accountability

Retaliation Response • the organisation denies, ignores, and blames • the responsibility of fixing the problem is placed on the Woman of Colour

• the organisation decides that the woman of colour is the problem and targets her • the organisation labels the conflict as a “communication issue” or claims that she is not qualified or “not a good fit”

• People of Colour are pitted against one another

Target & Attack


In a second webinar in the series, leaders learned how to take a positive approach to issues in the workplace related to race and religion. Julie Pascoët, Senior Advocacy Officer at ENAR highlighted the barriers faced from those from diverse religious backgrounds and how companies can accommodate the needs of others in an inclusive way. Key actions to positively approach race and religion in the workplace included: • Create a ‘quiet room’ - a space not just for prayer but for all employees to use as a place to take time for reflection or meditation.

The Woman of Colour exits the organisation

• Be seen to actively value difference – at a strategic level religious diversity increases the cultural and religious understanding of all employees. This awareness is necessary, not only in a global business environment, but also at the local/regional/national level to reflect the diversity of the customer base and society as a whole. • Assess the purpose of neutrality such as restricting freedoms to wear religious garments or symbols. Is it a legitimate policy with clear benefits for the workplace? Or does it single out some employees, creating a hostile and unequal work environment?

• Be mindful of asking individuals to do something that might conflict with their religious beliefs such as serving alcohol. If it is an integral requirement of a role it should be explicitly clear as such. THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON EMPLOYEES FROM ETHNIC MINORITY BACKGROUNDS IN HTL


In the final webinar, Sonia Meggie, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant at Business in the Community (BITC), shared some eye-opening statistics on the factors impacting race and mental health. According to research by the Runnymede Trust, for every £1 of wealth a white family has in the UK, a Black African family has just 10p. She also shared that according to research by BITC, 33% of Black employees feel that their ethnicity will be a barrier to their next career move (compared with 1% of white employees) and that 31% of Black employees feel likely to wait for three years for a promotion (compared to 23% of white employees.) With these facts in mind, it is clear that those from ethnically diverse backgrounds face greater challenges than white people in the workplace, without the added complication of the disproportionately negative impact of Covid-19. The cumulative impact of micro-aggressions faced by those from diverse ethnic backgrounds was also highlighted. If we are to overcome some of the challenges faced by those from diverse backgrounds in the workplace, it is important that leaders across the industry are adequately equipped with the knowledge of how to tackle racist behaviour in their organisation. They not only need to be familiar with a number of terms but also be aware of the impact that racist behaviour in different formats (such as in the form of micro-aggressions) can have on their team members. In a poll regarding familiarity with the term ‘micro-aggressions’, 51% of the webinar attendees were not familiar with the term, 46% were familiar with it and the remaining responders weren’t sure. In a subsequent poll, asking if leaders were aware of the connection between ‘microaggressions’ and the impact on a person’s mental health, 58% were familiar with the connection and 42% were not.

When asked how well-equipped leaders felt to support a member of their team that may be living with a mental health issue, 9% felt well equipped, 60% adequately equipped and 31% inadequately equipped. As it is clear that significant physical and mental health disparities already exist in Black, Asian and ethnic minorities within and outside of the workplace, if employers do not take specific action to combat the negative impact of Covid-19 on those from ethnically diverse backgrounds, the long-term negative impact on mental health not to mention the economic impact for such individuals will be severe. Key actions that were recommended for employers to implement in the short term: • Words have power - educate yourself and your employees on language, terminology and things that are not acceptable to say to those from ethnically diverse backgrounds • Check in – it is recommended that employers ask all managers to check in with employees now about how they are coping during Covid-19 • Signpost – flag any financial resources available to your employees, and actively encourage them to apply for them, supporting the application if necessary • Employers must convene big conversations in the workplace for active listening, and then make plans on agreed actions together with their Black employees. Employee resource groups can be useful feedback and support mechanisms • Work to ensure government advice has been understood • Monitor ethnicity in your workforce at this time in order to track and report progress against race targets in the future • Ensure there is not a disproportionate percentage of employees from ethnic minority backgrounds earmarked for redundancy

37 • Remember intersectionality: Black, Asian, Indian and minority ethnic women are part of your overall gender totals • Look at internal occupational segregation and make plans to redeploy talent now • Sponsor and support the Race at Work 2021 survey and encourage employees to participate in the survey. Sign the BITC Race at Work Charter. In the medium to long term, it was also recommended that employers take the following actions: • Capture data so that the intersectional nuances of women of colour from each census category can be considered • Set targets and monitor by ethnicity – monitor each stage of the recruitment process by ethnicity and gender from attraction to hire • Conduct skills assessments – assess the skills needed within your organisation for continued operational effectiveness, consider redeployment of skilled people • Actively encourage senior leaders to sponsor black talent in their workplaces THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING AND ENACTING CHANGE

The webinars represented an opportunity for leaders from across hospitality, travel and leisure to listen, reflect, be curious. Leaders were encouraged to take the next step and enact change, create an ethos of psychological safety, openness, honesty and empathy. Tania Holcroft, People and Culture director at Greene King, commented: “We’re really pleased to team up with WiHTL and ENAR to be part of these webinars to promote race equality in the workplace. It’s really important that at Greene King, and as part of the wider hospitality industry, we continue to focus and develop our position on inclusion and diversity. At Greene King we’re continuing to listen and learn to help us understand how we can create a more diverse workforce. WiHTL’s new report into the Impact of Covid-19 on Women and Ethnic Minorities

in HTL provides much needed data which will inform our strategy in supporting women and ethnic minorities in our company going forward.” Michael Privot, Director, ENAR added: “ENAR congratulates WiHTL and its members for seizing the opportunity of the current #BLM momentum to move forward decidedly on improving the full inclusion of racialised people, people of colour and Black and ethnic minority People in the hospitality, travel and leisure sectors, which are among the largest employers of people from a diverse background. Reaching out to ENAR – which has centred its D&I approach on Human Rights and full equality as making total business sense – is a clear sign of the dedication of the sector to go beyond announcements of good intentions, but to engage in a concrete journey towards progressive change, whatever it will take.” The three webinars formed part of WiHTL’s ‘Inclusive Leader Programme’ – the most comprehensive cross-industry programme ever put in place to support leaders across HTL to create, nourish and sustain diverse and inclusive environments. Over 2000 leaders have already signed up to join the Inclusive Leader Programme from across hospitality travel and leisure which runs until October 2020. Tea Colaianni, Founder & Chair, WiHTL commented: “By educating leaders of all backgrounds across the industry on the importance of their role in creating diverse and inclusive environments that do not tolerate racism, we hope to see real industry progress in people from diverse backgrounds feeling comfortable that they can bring their ‘whole’ selves to work and progress their careers in the HTL industry.”



The Employee Voice

How women and those from a minority ethnic background in HTL feel about the impact of Covid-19 The HTL sector has been hit especially hard by the economic impact of Covid-19. Revenues have fallen sharply, and millions of employees have been furloughed or faced cuts in hours. Even now businesses are reopening, HTL continues to be affected by consumer uncertainty, travel restrictions and the demands of social distancing.

Based on a survey of 1,500 employees across the HTL sector, PwC explores how the industry’s general workforce feels about their company’s Covid-19 response.


40 The survey Studies show that in the economy as a whole, the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women, carers and workers from BAME communities. Contributing factors include the high proportion of female and BAME workers who are employed on insecure contract terms (e.g. ‘zero hours’) or in jobs at heightened risk of exposure to the virus. Despite change, women also still bear the weight of caring responsibilities. Given the scale of the upheaval within HTL, we wanted to find out whether Covid-19 has had a similarly disproportionate impact on female and BAME workers in these sectors. Drawing on a survey of 1,500 HTL employees, key questions explored in this chapter include: • Whether inclusion and diversity have taken a back seat as HTL organisations have had to make on-the-spot decisions in their struggle to survive. • Whether the gains made in D&I within HTL have been reversed or whether 2020 could prove to be a catalyst for accelerating progress. • How we can harness the experiences gained during 2020 to create more inclusive and effective ways of operating within HTL. • With the Black Lives Matter movement having further heightened the spotlight on inequality and discrimination, we also wanted to find out how HTL organisations have responded.

The findings from our Employee Voice survey reveal some encouraging signs. In particular, 71% of HTL workers have felt supported by their employer during Covid-19. However, fewer women and BAME workers share this view. In turn, the survey highlights concerns in areas ranging from the protection of staff in vulnerable jobs to the lack of data being collected and used to inform key decisions affecting women and BAME workers. Moreover, while almost all of the people we surveyed are aware of the Black Lives Matter movement, most report little or no response from their employer. EMPLOYEE VOICE 2020: HEARING FROM WORKERS AT HIGHEST RISK

On behalf of PwC, Opinium surveyed 1,105 employees working in hospitality, 196 in travel and 199 in leisure during the first two weeks of August 2020. This included 979 women and 521 men. 126 participants identified as BAME. The participants came from all regions of the UK and included a cross section of workers across all pay grades up to and including middle management.



Most of the BAME workers we surveyed (65%) have felt supported by their employer during Covid-19 (23% completely supported and 42% somewhat supported).

Most of the women working in HTL we surveyed (69%) have felt supported by their employer during Covid-19 (30% completely supported and 40% somewhat supported).

Yet BAME workers are more likely to have been furloughed, put on reduced hours or made redundant (67%) than white colleagues (62%). Moreover, only 40% of BAME workers believed that their employer has taken all the steps necessary to protect their safety compared to 51% of white colleagues.

Yet, women are more likely to have been furloughed, put on reduced hours or made redundant (65%) than male colleagues (56%). It’s also telling that women are less likely than men to believe that their employer’s working from home policies and practices have taken their personal circumstances into account (64% to 74%).

Concerns over whether BAME workers are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic are heightened by the fact that less than a third (32%) of the participants in our survey reported that their employer collects information on workers’ ethnicity. Without this data, it’s difficult for management to know with any certainty whether BAME workers are being fairly treated.

For management, these findings underline the importance of being conscious of how their decisions affect different groups within the workforce, especially those who could be disproportionately impacted such as women.

Moreover, while our survey highlights widespread awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement within HTL, only 19% of survey participants reported that their organisation has responded. In turn, only 30% reported that their organisation has had conversations about racism.



Covid-19 has led to huge disruption in working lives within HTL. As lockdown took hold, the bulk of customer-facing and ancillary staff (e.g. cleaners and kitchen workers) were furloughed or faced cuts in hours. In turn, most managerial and clerical employees had to make a rapid switch to home working. The big question from an inclusion perspective is whether some groups have been unfairly treated, while others have been favoured. For example, are women more likely to lose out on working hours and pay than men? Are white employees more likely to be chosen to remain at work rather than being furloughed or laid off? If so, the sense that “we’re all in this together” and the workforce cohesion that comes with this will soon slip away. And while decisions that disadvantage women or BAME workers are unlikely to be the result of conscious discrimination, they could still stem from unconscious biases that have become ingrained within the organisation and its management. Within HTL, our survey indicates that many women and BAME workers have lost out in comparison to other groups. A higher proportion of women have been furloughed, put on reduced hours or made redundant (65%) than men (56%). In turn, 67% of BAME workers have been furloughed, put on reduced hours or made redundant, compared to 62% of white colleagues. Few believe that either their gender (1% of women) or their ethnicity (1% of BAME workers) contributed to their employer’s decision. However, as a number of leaders interviewed for this report acknowledge, some operations are more likely to have faced widespread furloughing and job cuts than others. These include functions where most of the staff have traditionally been women such as HR or marketing, while largely male teams such as finance have been less affected. It is therefore important to be conscious of the diversity implications of such decisions.

Why my experience of working during Covid-19 has been positive:

“It is because everyone respects each other no matter where you are from and what the colour of your skin is.” Why my experience of working during Covid-19 has been negative:

“Put on furlough for three months on reduced pay. Have been back for one month, but can only work two days per week as can’t find adequate childcare.” Concerns over whether the impact has been shared evenly across the workforce are heightened by the fact most organisations don’t collect information on factors such as employee ethnicity. It’s therefore difficult for them to know whether key decisions in areas such as hiring, promotion, furloughing and redundancy are even-handed. As many of the CEOs interviewed for this report acknowledge, the need to respond quickly to unfolding challenges may have left limited time or scope to consider inclusion and diversity. This is understandable. Yet, with easily accessible data on furlough or redundancy rates for women or BAME workers, they could at least see whether one group is being affected more than others. THE POWER OF DATA

Data and analysis can help to identify inclusion and diversity issues in need of attention, track performance and drive improvement. The information could be especially important at this time in gauging whether some sections of workforce including women, carers or BAME workers are facing disproportionate rates of redundancy, reduced hours and other negative impacts. Yet only 32% of participants in our survey report that their employer collects information on workers’ ethnicity. When all participants were asked whether their employer collected data in any of the areas of ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or social mobility, only 40% said yes, though 37% didn’t know.


Encouragingly, many of the HTL leaders interviewed for this report believe that the experience of Covid-19 could help to fast-track inclusion and diversity within their organisations. In particular, they believe that lockdown has helped to dispel lingering management misgivings about flexibility by showing how much is possible through remote working. Through video meetings with people working from home, senior management have also seen for themselves the challenges their employees face in balancing their professional and family life. More broadly, HTL leaders are increasingly aware of how much the way they treat their people shapes their brand. Inclusion is a critical part of this. Why my experience of working during Covid-19 has been positive:

“My employer has thought carefully about the staff and their needs.” Why my experience of working during Covid-19 has been negative:

Moreover, only 40% of BAME employees believe that their employer has taken all the steps necessary to protect their safety compared to 51% of white colleagues. Concerns centre on both insufficient safeguards introduced by employers and steps to ensure compliance with distancing rules among customers. The need for appropriate protection and support is underlined by the fact that the risk of exposure at work is one of the possible reasons why BAME communities have suffered worse health outcomes from Covid-19 than the population as a whole. Why my experience of working during Covid-19 has been negative:

“Abuse and insults on a daily basis from self-entitled customers.” Overall, women feel just as well supported as male colleagues. However, they are less likely to believe that their employer’s working from home policies and practices have taken their personal circumstances into account (64% of women, compared to 74% of men).

“I do not feel safe.”


The view from staff is more nuanced. Overall, 43% of HTL workers report that their working experience during the Covid-19 pandemic has been positive, compared to 21% negative. This is consistent across sectors and regions, though less so amongst furloughed staff (30% positive). It is also broadly consistent among women (43% positive) and BAME workers (41% positive). However, women working in ancillary roles such as cleaning are more likely to have had a negative experience (29%) compared to their male colleagues (15%). BAME workers in clerical and managerial roles have also had a less favourable experience (29% negative) compared to white colleagues (20% negative).

The welcome news is that 75% of workers who are a parent to young children and 86% of those with caring responsibilities believe that their employer’s working from home policies and practices have taken their personal circumstances into account. This is higher than the survey population as a whole (68%). However, 12% of workers looking after young children and 18% who are carers feel that their caring responsibilities were a factor in the decision to furlough them, put them on reduced hours or make them redundant.

This mixed picture is also evident when workers are asked whether they feel supported and protected by their employers. Worryingly, large numbers of employees do not feel adequately protected – and fewer BAME workers (65%) feel supported than white colleagues (71%).

“I just feel no one has asked how I am, how am I getting on working from home. Do you need support? I’ve heard nothing – just left to get on with it.”

Why my experience of working during Covid-19 has been negative:



The BLM movement has spurred increased debate about race and ethnicity in all aspects of society, including the workplace. Almost all (99%) HTL workers are aware of the BLM movement and 31% know a lot about it. Nearly half (49%) of BAME workers know a lot about it, compared to 29% of white colleagues. Despite this awareness, only 30% report that their organisation has had conversations about racism in the workplace. Such dialogue is more common in leisure (38%) than travel (33%) or hospitality (29%). Only 19% report that their organisation has responded to BLM (e.g. releasing a statement, donating money or introducing related training courses). Awareness is only slightly higher among BAME workers (22%). This limited response reflects the sentiments in many of the interviews with HTL CEOs. The leaders are keen to do the right thing, but many are still unsure about what this entails in practice. Others may be reluctant to talk about discrimination in case they say the wrong thing or their statements are misinterpreted. However, saying nothing could be worse as it suggests that the organisation doesn’t really care. Why my experience of working during COVID 19 has been positive:

“All the employees and employers have worked together as a team to find the most efficient working method and supported each other throughout.” Why my experience of working during COVID 19 has been positive:

“I have a very open and honest relationship with my manager and they have been very transparent throughout the whole COVID-19 crisis.”

Why my experience of working during COVID 19 has been positive:

“We have had great support for our senior team, updating us on what’s happening and providing advance notice about any steps to be taken. They put our safety first, but are still mindful of work and pay.” THE WAY FORWARD

Harness inclusion and diversity As your business strives to survive, inclusion and diversity might appear like second order priorities, In fact, they’re critical. They can help to inform key decisions by improving your ability to understand and connect with customers. They can also help you to engage more closely with your workforce at a time when you need all their insight and support. Get it out in the open Encouraging people to speak out is essential in raising awareness about tackling issues within your organisation. Both COVID-19 and BLM can be catalysts for greater openness. Clearly, some people may not feel comfortable about raising concerns. When people are worried about their jobs, they may be even more wary about speaking out. Networks for women, BAME and other potentially marginalised or vulnerable groups can help to provide a forum for sharing experiences and give people collective confidence in putting forward their views and concerns. In turn, role models and allies within management can promote understanding, solidarity and advocacy.

45 Base decisions on clear data


There will continue to be difficult decisions ahead, including the possibility of further redundancies and reduced hours. Clear data in areas such as the impact of these measures on women and BAME workers can help to ensure that decisions are fully informed and no section of the workforce is being unfairly treated. Data can also help to inform a proactive approach to redeployment and reskilling that reduces job losses and maintains a diverse talent pipeline within your organisation.

Our survey reveals an encouraging level of support for staff during an exceptionally difficult and stressful time.

Recognise that some workers may need extra support Many of your staff may be facing additional challenges in areas such as juggling work and caring responsibilities. There may also face multiple risks – higher vulnerability to sickness, childcare issues and possible loss of work. Talk to your staff regularly, including all the people on furlough. Check on their welfare and what support they need.

Yet a significant proportion of HTL workers feel insufficiently supported or protected. As their comments highlight, there are the deep anxieties about being furloughed without communication from their employer or any sense of what might happen to their job. Others feel unsafe, because customers, colleagues or their employers are failing to comply with basic rules. The fact that these concerns are highest amongst sections of the workforce that may already have faced marginalisation and discrimination heightens the need for concerted action. Both Black Lives Matter and the experiences of Covid-19 could also be a turning point for HTL. They underline the importance of tackling issues in an open and informed way. They also highlight the value of an inclusive culture, in which everyone feels respected, united and empowered, and everyone can bring their true selves to work. Organisations that are conscious of the particular issues facing their female and BAME workers, and are actively building this inclusive culture, can gain a clear edge in winning over customers and developing innovative solutions to help their businesses survive and thrive.



Looking Ahead

Lessons from Covid-19 and how businesses can move forward By integrating considerations about the future into current people policies, businesses in the HTL sector can guard against unintended consequences. In this section, we lay out some suggestions for leaders looking to prioritise diversity and inclusion in the next phases of Covid-19.




Diversity of thought is a commercial imperative for businesses that want to succeed in the months and years ahead. Businesses that fail to prioritise diversity and inclusion – especially now – will suffer as they find themselves outrun by their more forward-thinking competitors. This practically manifests itself through both a commercial performance, and a ‘moral compass’ lens. Businesses will need creativity and greater insight as they rebuild their business models and re-orientate themselves to changing customer needs and behaviours – and, a diversity and plurality of thought will be critical to fully understand a diverse, and changing, customer base. 2. WHAT GETS MEASURED, GETS DONE

The lack of accurate, meaningful data has long been a barrier to achieving diversity in the HLT sector. Leaders should consider measuring exactly how gender and ethnic and racial representation has changed since the pandemic, and make collecting data from current employees a core priority. 3. CONSIDER THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON YOUR DECISION-MAKING PROCESS

Leaders may wish to examine how restructures have impacted teams who are still working. For example, has a change in gender or racial and ethnic representation increased the potential for unconscious bias or group think?


Businesses should consider whether they are doing enough to protect women and those from ethnic minority backgrounds employees who serve as role models for junior colleagues and potential candidates looking to enter the industry. 5. RESTRUCTURE WITH DIVERSITY AT FRONT OF MIND

A blocker to progress in creating diverse leadership teams in our sector is the slow rate at which senior leadership roles have historically churned. Over the coming months, many businesses in our sector will be forced to restructure to reflect their new trading reality. As companies rebuild teams and organisational structures, businesses should prioritise diversity and allow different, more diverse leaders to emerge. 6. EMBRACE FLEXIBLE WORKING

Covid-19 has shown that remote and flexible working models can be highly effective – even in a multi-site, operational environment. Companies in HTL should take this learning with them into the next phases of Covid-19, in order to foster inclusive working practices which allow for those with responsibilities such as childcare. 7. BECOME A PART OF THE WIHTL COLLABORATION COMMUNITY

By joining the WiHTL community – as an individual or corporation – you’ll be a part of their mission to positively impact 5 million women and people of colour across HTL by 2025. WiHTL Membership includes access to comprehensive educational webinar programmes, mentoring programmes, impactful reports and white papers, collaborative initiatives, steering groups and committees and much more.



Further Reading Business in the Community: Race Equality campaign Comeback to HTL by WiHTL Equality Act 2010 Ethnicity Pay Gap Report 2020 pdfs/ethnicity-pay-report.pdf Gender Pay Gap Report 2020 maintaining-focus-gender-pay-june-2020.pdf Mentoring Women in HTL Office of National Statistics (ONS) BAME Representation culturalidentity/ethnicity Race in the Workplace: The McGregor Smith Review The Hampton-Alexander Review: FTSE Women Leaders Improving gender balance in FTSE Leadership (2019) uploads/2019/11/HA-Review-Report-2019.pdf The Hampton-Alexander Review: FTSE Women Leaders Improving gender balance in FTSE leadership (2018) uploads/2018/11/HA-Review-Report-2018.pdf

The Hampton-Alexander Review: FTSE Women Leaders Improving gender balance in FTSE leadership (2017) uploads/2017/11/Hampton_Alexander_Review_Report_ FINAL_8.11.17.pdf The Hampton-Alexander Review: FTSE Women Leaders Improving gender balance in FTSE leadership (2016) uploads/2016/08/FINAL-HA-Review-Nov-2016.pdf Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020 WiH2020 Review, The Diversity in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure Charter Women to Watch in HTL Index 2019 Are Your D&I Efforts Helping Employees Feel Like They Belong? Planning & Leading Your Response to Covid-19 Through Organisational Development


WiHTL Dates for your Diary 29th September 2020 Webinar: The Inclusive Leader Programme (ILP) - The Research Part 1: The Impact of Covid-19 on Women - Webinar with PwC and The MBS Group 5th October 2020 Webinar: The Inclusive Leader Programme (ILP) - Module 3: Personal Leadership - The Traits & Strengths of an Inclusive Leader Part 1: Courageous Conversations 7th October 2020 Webinar: The Inclusive Leader Programme (ILP) - Module 3: Personal Leadership - The Traits & Strengths of an Inclusive Leader Part 2: Leading Hybrid Teams in a Post Covid-19 World 8th October 2020 Webinar: The Inclusive Leader Programme (ILP) - The Research Part 2: The Impact of Covid-19 on Ethnic Minorities - Webinar with PwC and The MBS Group

12th October 2020 Webinar: The Inclusive Leader Programme (ILP) Module 3: Personal Leadership - The Traits & Strengths of an Inclusive Leader Part 3: Utilising the Mindsets of Curiosity, Courage, Connection to Make a Tangible Impact 14th October 2020 The Inclusive Leader Programme (ILP) - Module 2: The Inclusive Organisation - Identifying Barriers & Solutions Part 4: Build Back Better: Make Your Organisation a Magnet for Working Families in the New Normal 16th October 2020 The Inclusive Leader Programme (ILP) - Module 2: The Inclusive Organisation - Identifying Barriers & Solutions Part 5: Intention to Action - How to Take the Right Action at the Right Time 19th October 2020 Webinar: The Inclusive Leader Programme (ILP) - Module 3: Personal Leadership - The Traits & Strengths of an Inclusive Leader Part 4: Holding the Mirror Up & Enhancing Self-Awareness

Visit for the latest information on WiHTL’s programme of masterclasses, workshops and events throughout 2020.


About Us About WiHTL

About The MBS Group

WiHTL (formerly known as WiH2020) is the most influential collaboration community of leaders across the hospitality, travel and leisure sector, and is devoted to increasing women’s and ethnic minorities’ representation at all levels and, in particular, in leadership positions across the HTL sector. We believe that, through collaboration, we can amplify the impact of individual diversity initiatives, and together we can have a bigger, louder voice for the good of the industry. For more information, please visit

For more than 30 years, The MBS Group has been a leading sector-specialist executive search firm advising all consumer-facing industries, with a particular focus in the hospitality, travel and leisure industry. Clients consider us to be the partner of choice when searching for critical leadership roles that make a difference. We work at board level and on executive positions across all functions of strategic importance. For more information, visit

About PwC At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. PwC is a network of firms in 158 countries, with more than 236,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at This content is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors. © 2020 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the UK member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details.


Acknowledgements We would like to thank and acknowledge the Chairs, CEOs and HRDs that have participated in this research for so generously giving up their time to contribute to this report. We are also especially grateful to the WiHTL Advisory Board and the HR Steering Group for their continued insight and guidance. Particular acknowledgement must go to Tea Colaianni for her determination to make a difference in the HTL industry, and to Katy Bennett from PwC for her invaluable contribution. We would also like to extend our thanks to Jon Terry for his continued support and guidance on this endeavour. Lastly, we would like to thank our team at The MBS Group – Moira Benigson (Chair and Founder), Elliott Goldstein (Managing Partner), Sam Siegler (Director, Travel, Hospitality and Leisure), Simon More, Imogen Sewell and James Wardlaw for their invaluable contribution to the research and production of this report.

The MBS Group 3 Primrose Mews Off Sharpleshall Street London, NW1 8YW +44 (0) 20 7722 1221 © Copyright 2020,The MBS Group. All rights reserved.

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