Sexism in the Hospitality Industry as a Female Entrepreneur

Jessica Elliott

Jessica couples her 24 years of restaurant and hospitality industry experience with meticulous research to deliver insight into technology, operations, and marketing topics. Her optimized copy helps companies engage their audience while strengthening their communication with clients, employees, and management.

Regardless of your business, part of your success depends on your ability to deal with sexism in the hospitality industry. You face barriers from the beginning. Fortune reports that women entrepreneurs received a measly 2% of venture capital funding in 2017. Even with funding, female entrepreneurs routinely encounter awkward or outright sexist interactions with suppliers, contractors, and staff. 

However, as women use various platforms to call out sexism in the hospitality industry, from tweets to full-scale strikes like McDonald’s faced in 10 cities, more marginalized people are joining together to shape the future. 

The bottom line is that it’s not up to female entrepreneurs to account for how others perceive you in business. It’s a joint effort that all people in the hospitality industry must make. Still, leaders benefit by recognizing sexism and pointing it out while cultivating leadership skills and a supportive culture.

Two young male and female business partners having a meeting in a cafe

Display confidence while refining your leadership skills

Shelby Allison told Brit + Co that “You’ll find that women need to be more measured in their responses to situations. It’s very easy for people to view our reactions as being overly emotional.” While no marginalized person should have to change to reflect society’s standards, you can refine your leadership skills through local business and management courses and mentorship.  

Support other female entrepreneurs

You can handle sexism in the hospitality industry by reaching out to other female leaders. Camilla Marcus, the owner of West~bourne, told Goop that “We need to be promoting and supporting more women in decision-making positions, positions of real control and power, to be able to change that narrative for good and level out those power dynamics.” Strategic partnerships are mutually beneficial while mentoring new entrepreneurs helps develop an inclusive experience in your local community. 

Develop an inclusive workplace culture

As a female entrepreneur, you don’t have to be one of the guys to get your chefs to cooperate. However, it’s essential to be aware of how each member of your business speaks and listens in the workplace. Amy Brandwein, chef and owner of Centrolina, told NPR that she combats discrimination by cultivating an environment where “people feel comfortable about who they are.” Stand by a zero-tolerance policy while educating your hospitality crew. Doing so creates a safe culture for all staff and guests. 

Address sexism in the hospitality industry

By far, the biggest thing you can do is address sexism when it happens. Allison Kave, co-owner of Butter & Scotch, told Culture Trip that “We all experience [sexism] every single day. We all have to be more conscious and try to counteract it.” Whether you’re at an industry conference or managing a shift at your company, speak out when you notice sexism and support others who do the same. 

Train and support your staff

In a leadership role, you can tackle sexism head-on by putting in place policies that protect employees through education and processes to handle issues when they arise. Consider bringing in an expert to conduct training or help you put together an employee manual that outlines sexual harassment policies as well as forms of sexism that might not be as overt to every employee. Make sure those who experience sexism know they have a safe way to report it, and that measures will be taken to protect them.

As a female entrepreneur, you have the opportunity to face today’s challenges with a strong support group behind you. By recognizing sexism and agreeing not to turn a blind eye, you can do more than deal with sexism in the hospitality industry as a female entrepreneur. We can end this. 

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