Balance for Better – Gender Diversity is Good for Business

07/03/2019
In its 110th year, the annual International Women’s Day is as significant as ever – an important day of celebration of women’s achievements, and also for advocacy of continuing advancement of women particularly in the professional world.  This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter – building a gender balanced world.
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To celebrate International Women’s Day we asked our own inspiring leader Lesley Reynolds about her professional journeys and experiences, and why she believes in Balance for Better.

“I thought you were Leslie not Lesley”

In 1990, I encountered a ‘gender’ moment in my career.  The boutique recruitment firm I was working for, very successfully, was taken over by a more established firm.  When I met my new boss he seemed surprised – how could the top fee earner in his newly acquired business be Lesley not Leslie?

I was lucky in that my own experience of the hospitality industry was largely positive.  I was a Hotel Manager at 26, but although the hospitality industry is largely meritocratic and huge opportunities exist, there is an issue of fewer women on boards and in the c-suite.  In my experience, the reason for this is the unsociable hours and the difficulty in achieving a healthy work and family life balance.

The gender debate has become far more prevalent across society, with companies recognising that a diverse skill set is a valuable asset and research suggesting that diversity improves the financial bottom line.

I wasn’t yet 30 when I worked in London as GM of the prestigious Gleneagles Club/Champneys Club.  I was there at 6.30 when doors opened and often until midnight, missing many social and family events.  My plan to attend a family christening on a Saturday was scuppered by my boss.  There have been close scrapes – 2 sick children, a sick nanny, and your first day as MD! You know who your neighbours are when you can deposit two youngsters with a temperature on their doorstep at 7am.

The hospitality sector has many fabulous female role models – Dagmar Woodward, Jennifer Fox, Amanda Hyndman, the late Robyn Jones and many more.  The fact is, like any industry, hospitality needs diversity – a better, stronger culture is created by a diverse workforce. The gender debate has become far more prevalent across society, with companies recognising that a diverse skill set is a valuable asset and research suggesting that diversity improves the financial bottom line.  Research such as this should undoubtedly incentivise organisations to actively promote diversity as a strategic priority.

The fact is, like any industry, hospitality needs diversity – a better, stronger culture is created by a diverse workforce.

Gender diversity is good for business. The quality of the leadership team that makes the decisions is largely responsible for the success of a company.  Female representation on boards and in leadership positions allows businesses to harness and utilise an expanded talent pool while building group trust.  In turn, a balanced leadership team and workplace often attracts more diverse talent.

I believe that as a leading executive recruitment consultancy, fairness and meritocracy have to lie at the heart of what we do.  With the shortage of skills at every level being the post Brexit theme, every sector needs to embrace Lesley as well as Leslie.

About the author

Lesley Reynolds

Managing Director – Hotels, Leisure & Travel

Lesley heads psd‘s Hotel, Hospitality, Leisure & Travel sectors at board, senior executive and management level on a global basis, while personally delivering executive search and senior assignments across these sectors.