International Women’s Day is observed each year on March 8. This global day of recognition celebrates the historical, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is also a time to bring awareness and take action against gender inequality around the world.
On this International Women’s Day, I’m taking the opportunity to share my story and some of what I’ve learned and witnessed throughout my journey in the professional world. I’m fortunate to have had tremendous female role models going back to my first hotel job.
I lost my mother at a very young age and while I attribute my optimistic, kind, and caring outlook to her, I grew up shy and lacking in confidence. So, I can honestly say that I attribute much of my personal and professional growth to the strong, smart women with whom I have worked through the years.
How it all started
My career began in the hospitality industry as a teenager. I eventually earned a degree in Human Resources, and along the way, I worked in housekeeping, the front desk, accounting, and hybrid HR roles before becoming a successful regional director of Human Resources. I made an impact in that job and in just over three years, I was offered the position of hotel general manager. For the first time in my career, I was excited and terrified at the same time. Was I qualified for the GM role? Could I do it? Would I be successful? Would there be gender bias? Would my team take me seriously?
At the time, I was 31 years old. I quickly learned that hotel general managers were primarily men, generally middle-aged – and they golf – and I am not good at golf! My new job was with a large hotel company and at a global conference, I learned that only about 10% of the GMs in the room were women. Wow, was I outnumbered. But since taking that promotion and over the past decade, it has been rewarding to see more and more women take roles as hotel general managers. Real progress has been made in this space for gender equality, women’s rights, and empowering women. I remain gratified to have earned an early seat at the table.
It wasn’t always easy but the rewards keep coming
Throughout my career, I have been a victim of inequality as it relates to compensation. I have also been a victim of discrimination and unconscious bias. There have been times when I was unheard, unseen, and outright disrespected. I once was mistaken for someone crashing a GM reception at a hotel because I “didn’t look the part.” I cannot tell you how many times an upset guest didn’t want to speak to me. “Where is the manager? I’m sure HE’s here.” On many occasions, I had to stand my ground and make sure I was heard. I knew it wasn’t just happening to me or just to young women. Gender bias was and remains an issue for women of all ages.
Most importantly, though, there have been many successes, great relationships, and talented teams who lifted me up. And the support has been reciprocal. I’ve had the pleasure of hiring, promoting, and witnessing other women whose contributions to our industry have been vast. I treasure being a part of this kind of growth within my chosen industry and am forever grateful to the remarkable women whose influence impacted my life and career.
Yes, you can!
With this message, I hope to encourage other women who are scared or have felt undervalued to aim high and take the challenge. You have something unique and valuable to bring to the table. Never be afraid to stand up, make a statement, and make yourself heard. I also encourage you to seek support and mentorship from other women who have braved a rewarding path to success in your industry.
There is still work to be done globally to improve equality for women in the workforce and in society. Do your research and see how you can make a difference. Every industry has amazing stories of women who have made positive changes in empowering women, promoting gender parity, and creating an equal world.
If you need help finding a career where you are valued, or if you are interested in talent recruitment and want to partner with a company that values women’s contributions to the workforce, reach out to Goodwin Recruiting. We’re here to help.
In the meantime, let’s celebrate International Women’s Day and keep the positive trends going for professional women!