Solotel partnered with Women in Hospitality on 23 October to present the not-for-profit’s final event for its first year. The event, hosted at Solotel’s Clovelly Hotel, explored the role both genders can play in achieving equity in the hospitality industry. 

Opera Bar head chef Laura Baratto and Chelsea Carter, GM and licensee of the Paddo Inn Bar & Grill, were joined by Solotel co-owner Matt Moran, for a panel discussion, facilitated by Delicious editor-in-chief and WOHO board member Kerrie McCallum, about men championing women.

“When I first started cooking I think it would have been 60 percent men, 40 percent women,” said Moran. “Then all of the sudden it switched to 80/20. I think it’s really important, not just in kitchens but in business, to have that balance.”

“I’ve only ever worked under a male head chef,” said Baratto. “I don’t think [their mentorship] is defined by them being male or female, it’s just the honesty of that mentor. I don’t particularly put any definition on the fact that Matt’s a man or Ben [Turner] is a man — those guys have been there for the last 10 years for me and I think that’s a big part of my growth.”

“The industry is a little saturated by men, I think we can all admit that, especially in those senior leadership roles,” added Carter. “But you can take those leadership qualities that you see from the people around you, whether they be male or female.”

Discussing why there aren’t more women in leadership roles within the hospitality industry, the panellists all agreed “times have changed” and women should not have to face the same barriers to career growth as they once did.

“It’s bloody hard to get staff, male or female, so you’ve got to have a good working environment and the more organisations shout that out, the more people will come into the industry ,” said Moran.

“Being a young women, going into the next stage of life, it’s about opening up that dialogue about what the future looks like,” said Carter. “If that includes having children, being able to have a safe a environment to have that discussion… is really integral. It shouldn’t be one or the other, you should be able to have both and there should be a framework to encourage that.”

A look back at WOHO’s first year

The new organisation, founded by Julia Campbell, launched officially on 29 May, in front of a sold out audience of both women and men at Three Blue Ducks in Rosebery.

The WOHO vision is to give women access to a supportive network that educates and provides access to mentors and forums to share information and experiences, discuss issues, find solutions and support one another to help nurture their careers and encourage longevity in the hospitality industry.

Since it’s launch the organisation has implemented a mentoring program, managed by Jane Strode, with the likes of Christine Manfield, Mike Bennie, Nadine Ingram, O Tama Carey, Jemma Whiteman and Danielle Alvarez offering guidance to participants.

WOHO is set to continue growing in 2018. Sign up here to receive monthly newsletters and access to other WOHO benefits.

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