Study claims women fare better in hospitality sector than in any other industry

The Staff Canteen

Is the UK hospitality industry a great place for women to work? According to Pr firm Reboot Digital, yes, it is. But we looked at the figures, and it's complicated

Reboot's study, based on findings by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) resulting from their Labour Force Survey (LFS) for 2021, looked at factors including female representation, the proportion of women in higher-ranking positions, the gender pay gap and the percentage of bonuses given to women in the accommodation and food service industries. With this, they were able to give each industry a score out of 10 for how well they performed.

Accommodation and food services - or hospitality - made the number 1 spot with a score of 7.25, followed by the administrative and support services industry, which managed a score of 6.88. It was much closer between second and fourth positions with third, public admin and defence, scoring 6.63 and fourth, health and social work, scoring 6.50.

Female Representation

While hospitality came out on top of the overall scoring system, when it comes to the proportion of its workforce made up by women, it didn't make it into the top 5: just over half (52.34 percent) of hospitality workers are women. 

However, hospitality also managed to avoid falling into the bottom 5 - where agriculture, forestry and fishing stood with only 26.18 of women. 

It is also worth noting that this is across all roles within hospitality, and does not give a detailed representation of where women are most present - and, as we know, kitchens are one area where women are in short supply. 

Women in Positions of leadership

The big caveat here is once again that across the board, in the UK, there aren't very many women in leadership roles.

Even in the highest-scoring industry, real estate, women account for just 13.45 percent of the workforce in higher leadership roles.

Hospitality followed in second place, which seems commendable on the one hand - but still, only 6.81 percent of hospitality leaders are women. 

These numbers aligh with the findings of a new report published by diversity community Women in Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure (WiHTL), based on figures calculated by PwC, which found that the average hotel, tourism and leisure company had 58 percent males in the highest-paid 25 percent of their workforce, and 54 percent of females in the lowest-paid 25 percent.

Female jobs were also found to be much more likely to be casual and vulnerable to reactionary business decisions like furlough.


According to Reboot, the attribution of bonuses to women is once again drastically low across the board. In the highest-ranking industry - financial and insurance activities - only 1.09 percent of bonus recipients were women, giving it a deceptive score of 10/10. 

Every other industry gives bonuses to fewer than 0.5 percent of women, and in hospitality, fewer than 0.10 percent of bonuses were allocated to women.

The Pay Gap

While some industries such as water supply, sewage and waste, which took the top spot for reducing the pay gap between men and women by actually paying their female employees more than their male employees on average, most didn't.

Again in this category, hospitality scored middling results, with women being payed 4.40 percent less on average than their male counterparts.

This is in contrast to the WiHTL report, which showed that as a result of the pandemic, the average mean pay gap in the hospitality industry increased for the first time in 3 years, from 5.4 percent to 7.7 percent. 

That having been said, WiHTL noted that many businesses have put strategies in place to tackle the pay gap, such as focusing on people development, inclusive recruitment, updating policies and processes and improving education and awareness in order to promote wider inclusivity and diversity.

Final Thoughts

Let's not kid ourselves, female equality in the workplace still has a long way to go.

The hospitality industry can take a pat on the back in some areas, however, as in other industries, the UK is still grappling with issues of pay gaps, too few women promoted into positions of leadership, and an almost illusory distribution of bonuses to female workers.

Do you have a strategy to increase gender equality in your business? What is your experience? We would love to hear from you, let us know in the comments below or reach out to us on social media.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 3rd February 2022

Study claims women fare better in hospitality sector than in any other industry