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Rethinking Diversity in Tech & Hospitality

February 27, 2024 4 min read
Diversity in Tech and Hospitality


Rethinking Diversity in Tech & Hospitality

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Since beginning my HR career over seven years ago, diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been a frequently and widely discussed topic. We all know the typical narrative resounding in the headlines, that women have been historically discriminated against in the workplace, leading to shortages of women in the tech industry. But although this may have been the case back in the 70s, with the wealth of programs and initiatives aimed at encouraging women to pursue tech careers, I cannot help but wonder, is gender discrimination still the primary cause for today’s talent shortage of women?

Despite numerous initiatives aimed at encouraging more women to enter the tech workforce across the western world, a significant majority still opt for careers outside of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. According to a recent study in Scandinavia, a region prominently known for its gender equality measures in comparison to remaining western nations, despite women being strongly encouraged to pursue tech and STEM careers, women are still opting out and pursuing careers in different industries.

Other studies, such as the one published in Science (2018) by Gijsbert Stoet and David C. Geary suggest that in countries with higher levels of gender equality, women are less likely to obtain degrees in STEM fields, possibly indicating a paradox where increased freedom of choice leads to more gender-typical career paths. This nuanced reality underscores the complexity of fostering genuine diversity within the tech and hospitality sectors, beyond mere quotas and diversity initiatives.

This trend raises the age-old debate of nature versus nurture: Are societal and cultural influences diverting women away from tech, or do innate preferences play a more significant role? What can companies do to rethink diversity, and ensure that they have an equal distribution of talent based on merit, rather than filling quotas? Let’s investigate.

The Essence of True Diversity and why it Matters

Diverse workforces are not just about fulfilling quotas or creating a good public image; they are about enriching perspectives, fostering innovation, and driving better business outcomes. A report by McKinsey & Company (2020) highlighted that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. However, achieving true diversity extends beyond numbers; it requires a deep understanding of the unique contributions each individual brings to the table, irrespective of gender.

Equality of Opportunity vs Equality of Outcome: Understanding the Challenge of Authentic Inclusivity

Authentic inclusivity means equal opportunities for everyone. Equality of opportunity gives everyone the freedom to pursue the career paths they desire, rather than try to force a levelled playing field through so-called inclusivity measures that ironically end up being quite exclusive.

In the attempt to over-correct historical gender disparities in STEM industries, many companies make the mistake of implementing measures to force equality of outcome (i.e. an equal distribution of talent by gender in these fields), when the reality is that we as humans have our own individual interests, attributes, and skills. In the over-simplistic attempt to level the playing field through the use of quotas and similar measures, companies risk overlooking talent who could potentially be the best fit for those roles.

True diversity in the workplace goes beyond simply hiring a mix of genders and ethnicities; it entails creating an environment where diverse talent can thrive, contribute, and lead. This involves fostering a culture of inclusion and ensuring that opportunities for growth and advancement are equally accessible to all. The question then becomes: How can companies move beyond superficial diversity measures to cultivate an authentically diverse workforce? Below I will share some best practices based on my experience at Guestcentric.

4 Best Practices for Fostering Genuine Diversity

1. Meritocracy as a Foundation

Guestcentric’s approach offers a blueprint for achieving a genuinely diverse workforce. By prioritizing merit in its hiring practices, Guestcentric has naturally achieved a balanced and diverse team. This merit-based approach ensures that all employees, regardless of gender, are selected for their skills, experience, and potential, leading to a workforce that is both diverse and highly competent.

2. Balanced Representation as a result of Merit-based Hiring Practices

With 60% of its workforce being women, Guestcentric exemplifies how merit-based hiring can result in equitable representation across all levels of the organization. This balanced gender distribution in both the general workforce and management positions underscores the effectiveness of focusing on merit and competence as the primary criteria for employment and advancement.

3. Cultivating an Inclusive Culture

Beyond hiring practices, Guestcentric’s success in fostering diversity can also be attributed to its inclusive company culture. An environment that values diverse perspectives and encourages equal participation is crucial for allowing all employees to feel valued and empowered. This culture of inclusivity not only enhances employee satisfaction and retention but also drives innovation and creativity by leveraging a wide range of viewpoints and experiences.

4. Empowering Women through Flexible Support

At Guestcentric, we also support women striving to balance family and career ambitions. By giving mothers the option to take up to 9 months of maternity leave, the company empowers its female employees to prioritize their family needs without sacrificing their career progression. This policy reflects a deep understanding of the challenges women face in the workforce and a commitment to providing the support they need to overcome these challenges. Remarkably, Guestcentric’s supportive approach has seen women returning from extended maternity leave to be promoted to senior positions, illustrating that with the right policies in place, women truly can “have it all.” This practice not only fosters a culture of inclusivity and support but also sends a powerful message that career advancement and family life are not mutually exclusive but are, in fact, complementary aspects of a fulfilling life.

The Path Forward

The journey towards truly diverse workforces in the tech and hospitality sectors requires a departure from conventional diversity and equity initiatives. As demonstrated by Guestcentric’s practices, focusing on merit-based hiring, ensuring balanced representation, and cultivating an inclusive culture are key strategies for achieving genuine diversity. These efforts not only contribute to a more equitable and inclusive workplace but also enhance organizational performance by harnessing the full spectrum of human potential. In rethinking our approach to diversity, we can move closer to a future where every individual has the opportunity to thrive and contribute, regardless of gender.


Learn more about GuestCentric

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