There is a lack of women holding senior roles in the UK’s hospitality sector, new research sponsored by UK Hospitality has found.

The report, co-written by Jackie Moody-McNamara of Brilliant women and John Higgins of Gameshift consultancy, identified seven barriers to success faced by women in the sector.

These included a ‘boys club’ mentality, women being frequently undervalued by themselves and others, and macho, ‘kneejerk’ leadership.

To tackle the issue, the report outlined seven critical areas that the industry must work on from silent endorsements of the status quo, ignoring unintended bias and coaching and mentoring opportunities to allow alternative routes to the top.

Based on information gathered from 32 formal interviews, the report concluded that four themes stood out: that a lack of diversity is alive in many workplaces, there is a relative shortage of women holing senior roles or feeding the promotional pipeline, but finally that examples of innovative practice and ‘green shoots’ are rising.

“What we really need is the sector bodies and key influences to get behind this research, accept where we are and recognise accelerated improvements are required, so everyone can benefit,” said Moody-McNamara. “This is a watershed moment; our people are saying “ensure hospitality is fair and equitable for everyone and we’re ready to step up and grab it.”

“Hospitality has done some great work in recent years providing opportunities for women and shrinking the gender pay gap,” added Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality. “There is, however, clearly much more we can be doing to get women into senior positions in the industry.”

“This report shows that, despite some good work, there are clearly barriers to progression in the sector. We need to acknowledge there is an issue here and we need to act on it now. This report is a fantastic resource for ensuring better female representation at senior levels. UKHospitality will be using it as the basis for our work championing diversity amongst our membership and across the whole hospitality sector.”