Sally Whyte, Crowne Plaza Hobart

Each year, International Women’s Day raises a variety of conversations about gender equity. In 2024, the focus is on inclusivity, with the theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’ looking at ways to combat bias, stereotypes, and discrimination in the quest for a gender equal world.

Here, Crowne Plaza Hobart Human Resources Coordinator, Sally Whyte, recounts her experiences of inclusivity in the hotel industry and why visibility is so important.

Reflecting on my experiences, I’ve come to understand the significance of visibility. Despite my initial reluctance, participating in events like International Women’s Day and being a member of IHG’s Out and Open community has highlighted to me the importance of representation and amplifying diverse voices within the industry.

Inclusivity stands as a cornerstone of progress and harmony and embodies the fundamental principle that every individual, regardless of their background, identity, or beliefs, deserves to be valued, respected, and included.

I have made a point of not letting my gender or choice of partner dictate what I can and can’t achieve in life. I think the hotel industry is incredibly inclusive regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or age. If you have the right skills set for hospitality, I believe you are welcomed. I find it one of the most diverse industries at an operational level however society and the business world overall needs to improve their actions to ensure women are equally represented at a higher level of leadership.

I was an 18-year-old female from a country town when I started my apprenticeship in Melbourne, and I was given all the opportunities to pursue a career in hospitality. I have worked in kitchen brigades, front-of-house teams, events teams and business support teams,  and always felt supported by the people that make up this passionate industry.

I can truly say I have never felt lesser or that I had to work harder to prove myself because I was a woman. And I have always felt accepted when my wife and I check into hotels or arrive for a restaurant reservation. This is undoubtedly why I have been fortunate enough to make a career in this industry for 17 years.

This International Women’s Day I can happily look around the hotel and celebrate the fact that two out of three of our operating Heads of Department are women; 100% of our managers in business support departments are women; and we are headed up by the most incredible female general manager. These women are all leaders in their field, and it is such an amazing team to be a part of. Sadly, this is not the case everywhere and as a society we are missing out on the benefits that balanced gender leadership provides. 

Inclusivity means that this should be the norm and there is no need to point out or be congratulated on being an inclusive workplace. One day I hope that we’ll look back and think how strange it was that a woman getting a particular role was something to call out and celebrate, that gender was even thought about or mentioned. But until this is the norm, days like International Women’s Day are important to take the time to acknowledge the need for gender equity and keep the conversation where it belongs – on the agenda. 

Search #IWD2024 on HM for more stories in our 2024 International Women’s Day series.