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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Academics & Research

UH hotel study finds organizations that promote women seen as more fair


Michelle Russen, a Ph.D student at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, released the first study on gender inequity in promotional processes for hotel employees. | File Photo/The Cougar

Michelle Russen, a Ph.D student at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, released the first study on gender inequity in promotional processes for hotel employees. | File Photo/The Cougar

Women account for only 12 percent of all hotel leadership positions, like supervisors or owners.

A new study, led by Ph.D student Michelle Russen at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, found that hotels that promote women over equally qualified men tend to be perceived as less discriminatory and more fair. 

“A little background in hotels, the top management team is largely male, but the frontline teams are about 70 percent female,” Russen said. “So there’s this giant disparity, which is why I chose my research area.”

The first study to analyze gender inequity in promotional opportunities for hotel employees, Russen and her team examined how hotel managers’ perspectives affect the promotional process of hotel employees. 

They surveyed 87 hotel managers on their feelings about the perceived fairness of promotional procedures and gender discrimination. Respondents were distinguished based on whether they promoted male or female job candidates. 

“The study was brought on because almost every year, we have done diversity training sessions at the Hilton College for hotel managers,” Russen said.

“We wanted to get their opinion on the promotion process fairness and how they thought women were being promoted, and if that was fair. So we conducted an experiment and that was this paper,” Russen added. 

Published in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, the study found that the effect of the promoted employee’s gender on perceived gender discrimination against women was mediated by procedural and distributed justice. 

The perceived fairness of promotional procedures doesn’t just affect job candidates. The perception of an organization as less discriminatory and more fair could impact the company’s culture and its financial performance.  

The team proposed creating a blind review process for evaluating candidates during the promotion process, and even potentially involving a third party to review information and criteria for the positions.

Russen and her team recommend creating a blind review process and inviting objective third parties to review candidate information and promotional criteria to avoid age, gender or “like-me” biases. 

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