International Women’s Day

07/03/22

Joanne Barratt, MD of The Venues Collection and Lime Venue Portfolio said: “I became a hotel GM at the age of 26 and back then, it was a really big deal; of the 30 GMs in this particular hotel chain, only two of us were female. It was a very male dominated environment and I did experience patronising language, old fashioned stereotypes and sexism from some of the more mature members of the team. It wasn’t always really overt, but I would often be expected to be the meeting note taker simply because I was female.

“Later in my career I was invited to apply for a London regional manager role in a company I’d worked for before. I came up against an old (male) colleague of mine who asked what I was doing there. When I explained that I was being interviewed for the same position that he was going for he was shocked and said “surely you should be having children by now?” I got the job but comments like this are bound to impact, they can play on our feelings of self-worth, our confidence and imposter syndrome can creep in. I’ve always believed that you ‘put into it what you want to get out of it.’ I’m pretty determined (some may say stubborn…) and so sexist comments and old-fashioned attitudes just made me even more focused on achieving my goals.

“Douglas Bamber was a great supporter of me; he trusted me and gave me the space to grow and to gain confidence. He encouraged me to realise that I could achieve my goals, but he was always there as a safety net. Linda Podbeileski was a fellow GM when I was coming through the ranks and she was an inspirational role model to me. I watched how she worked and how she stood her ground on many occasions – she inspired confidence.

“Three out of four of my senior team are women, but that said I believe in just recruiting the best person for the role, no matter their gender. I believe that a team should be diverse, so that everyone brings a different perspective and skill set to the equation and that this makes the whole team stronger. Compass Group UK & Ireland’s Women in Food initiative supports and encourages women in the catering and hospitality business; The network has over 200 members from all genders, including those that work on the frontline to senior leadership positions. The group has a clear strategy, which continues to work towards attracting diversity, supporting development at all levels and creating a safe and supportive environment where everyone can thrive. I’m an ambassador and we also have ambassadors at every one of our venues too. We are also supporting our teams to undergo apprenticeships and internal training (such as the MHFA courses).

“Fay Sharpe does a wonderful job with the Fast Forward 15 mentoring initiative – I would love to be involved as a mentor one day. The Master Innholders was once a very male

dominated organisation but is now more inclusive and they have some great initiatives to support women in the hospitality industry.

“We need to continue to raise the profile of women and celebrate their achievements. To ensure that the next generation of women have great role models to look up to, to support and encourage them to reach their potential.