Mentoring which addresses the gender gap

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Written by Fay Sharpe on 4 February 2015

A new year is upon us and with it new challenges and new prospects, especially in terms of redressing the ever present ‘elephant-in-the-room’ of gender imbalance which is still an unacceptable reality across the breadth of British business.

I have been able to observe my own sector, hospitality, grow to become an industry now valued at £19 billion, and one which is gradually being realised as a rewarding career path in which talented people can rise quickly, yet… it is not without its faults.

Figures show that 75 per cent of the industry is female, yet, this is far from reflected within senior positions and on boards in many leading companies. I often feel that women face a constant battle to gain more recognition and subsequent career progression, struggling to overcome external barriers, such as institutional discrimination, or poor self-image and a lack of self-belief, which hinder their development and prevent them from rising to the next level. It has been my goal, throughout my career, to introduce genuine equality. I’ve achieve it at Zibrant, and it’s had a remarkably beneficial effect on the company as a whole.  

A key part of ensuring gender parity at Zibrant, was to focus on education and skills development, especially through mentoring talented females in the company. As such, I have taken the ethos of the model, and come up with a programme with appeal across the sector, Fast Forward 15, which launched in January 2015.

Fast Forward 15 has been set up as a not-for-profit initiative, spanning across events and hospitality, giving access and insight from some of the leaders in our field; an inspiring portfolio of influential and select talent who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with our stars of the future.

The programme will run for a 12-month period, during which time mentees and mentors will work together to achieve objectives and goals. We have already obtained the support of industry leaders from both agency and corporate environments, and the scheme has been endorsed by the HBAA (Hotel Booking Agents Association), MPI UK (Meetings Professional International) and the Women’s Business Council. The programme aims primarily to inspire, encourage and empower women in the events, hospitality and related industries to be the best that they can be.


About the author
Fay Sharpe, managing director, Zibrant

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