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In 2015 women represented 55 percent of the hospitality workforce, and yet only 10 percent of the industry’s CEOs were women, said Julia Campbell at the launch of Women in Hospitality (WOHO).

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

During her opening address Campbell spoke about the challenges women face while trying to carve out careers in the hospitality industry.

“Almost 60 percent of bartenders and baristas are women, and yet men are still 2.5 times more likely to be the highest earners in those occupations,” she said, listing just one of many examples that show women are still coming up against glass ceilings.

Following her experience in working in New York where she was part of a not-for-profit organisation called Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, Campbell said she was inspired to create a forum for Australian women.

“Women in Hospitality has an online platform that encompasses front of house, back of house, and head office, where members can post in forums, ask questions and reach out for support,” said Campbell.

“Members can apply for a mentoring program lead by Jane Strode and we’re very proud to have some of our starting mentors here tonight: Christine Manfield, Nadine Ingram, Danielle Alvarez, as well as Mike Bennie.

“We will have quarterly events lead by our board and partners where members can share experiences and expand networks. Online there is also a platform where members can create their own events, share other industry events or reach out to other members for a drink or bite to eat.

“We are starting tonight in Sydney but have already had many enquiries to grow nationally and that’s what we plan to do.”

What the WOHO board has to say 

The launch also saw some members of the WOHO board from diverse backgrounds in the industry, including Anna Pavoni (Ormeggio), Lisa Hobbs (Dedes Group), Lisa Margan (Margan Estate), Kerrie McCallum (delicious and Stellar), and Lyndey Milan (OAM), participate in a panel discussion led by Joanna Savill.

The inspiring panel offered advice and encouragement, alongside their own stories of working in hospitality, with one message echoing throughout the night: “Be true to who you are.”

“My advice is always to believe in yourself, don’t doubt yourself. You can do it. Ask for help. You must do positive self-talk,” said Milan.

McCallum agreed that women need to have the confidence to ask for help.

“People love to be called up and asked ‘hey, I’d love your advice on something’,” she said, before adding that it’s imperative to work hard, innovate and move with change. “There’s a huge lack of diversity. We have a lot of great women food writers and stylists, but I want to see women driving big tv shows and magazine sales.”

“Clearly we are outnumbered,” said Margan. “But I think it’s possibly just more about us learning to step up to the plate and back ourselves. We’re seeing more women step forward. There will be some logistical things because yes, there is a choice to have a family but… we need to innovate moving forward and think about how women can step up to the plate more. What I offer is job sharing, so instead of stepping down from a senior role, maybe just share it. We want balance for our male chefs too.”

“There’s two balances here,” added Hobbs. “There’s gender balance and individual balance. There are men who want more time with their children and there are women who want to get back into the workforce.”

“There are a lot of pathways in the industry, but people fall off because life gets in the way,” said Pavoni. “I hope that we can encourage women to stay in industry.”

The discussion got to the heart of WOHO’s mission to create a forum for women to encourage and support each other, both personally and professionally.

“We’re all talking a lot about personal characteristics, rather than professional skills. So, resilience, knowing who you are and sticking to it, being able to ask for advice and having emotional intelligence,” said Savill.

“These are things that are great to talk about in a forum like this.”
For more information about WOHO click here. 

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