Food

In­dus­try heavy­weight Ju­lia Camp­bell cham­pi­ons women in hos­pi­tal­ity.

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When Ju­liana Payne took over as CEO of in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion Restau­rant and Cater­ing Aus­tralia early this year, she an­nounced she’d like to raise the par­tic­i­pa­tion and pro­file of women in the field. It’s a fair call. Flick through the World’s 50 Best Restau­rants list and the star-stud­ded male-fest would make you as­sume women are non-ex­is­tent in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. Look at the statis­tics, how­ever, and they paint a dif­fer­ent pic­ture.

In Aus­tralia, women make up more than half the sec­tor, 51.8 per cent to be ex­act, but that num­ber drops to 15.4 per cent when you look at fe­male CEOs. And when it comes to bar­tenders and baris­tas, al­most 60 per cent are women, yet men are still 2.5 times more likely to be the high­est earn­ers in those oc­cu­pa­tions.

It’s a sce­nario that Ju­lia Camp­bell, founder of Women in Hos­pi­tal­ity (WoHo), hopes to chal­lenge. “Fe­males are se­ri­ously un­der-rep­re­sented,” says Camp­bell, who launched the not-for-profit mem­ber or­gan­i­sa­tion to help pro­vide women from all ar­eas of hos­pi­tal­ity — front-of-house, head of­fice, chefs, bar staff, som­me­liers and pro­duc­ers — with ad­vice, con­nec­tions and role mod­els. “When it comes to the food in­dus­try, Aus­tralia is for­ward-think­ing, or we’re con­sid­ered to be for­ward­think­ing, but it’s still a very male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try. It’s im­por­tant we face this is­sue, and WoHo is a ve­hi­cle for us to in­spire, re­cruit and re­tain more fe­males — and to give them the con­fi­dence to sup­port them­selves and each other in their pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment,” she ex­plains.

Anna Pavoni, co-owner of Syd­ney’s Ormeg­gio at The Spit and Sotto So­pra, as well as one of WoHo’s 10 board mem­bers, says this is an es­sen­tial ini­tia­tive. “Hos­pi­tal­ity is a hugely im­por­tant in­dus­try for our coun­try; just look at the money Tourism Aus­tralia has spent [pro­mot­ing the food and wine in­dus­try]. It makes sense that we are try­ing to en­cour­age peo­ple to join and stay in the in­dus­try — and women make up half the work­force,” she says, adding the en­cour­age­ment of the as­so­ci­a­tion is crit­i­cal.

“Hos­pi­tal­ity has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing com­pletely un-women- friendly be­cause at the end of the day, yes, chil­dren come along, and, yes, women have to deal with that. My pas­sion is show­ing all the ca­reer paths avail­able in the in­dus­try — it is not just about be­ing a chef, waiter, man­ager. I be­lieve a lot of amaz­ing women drop out of the in­dus­try be­cause they don’t know what th­ese [al­ter­nate pro­fes­sions] are, or how to take them up.”

On the board along­side Pavoni and Camp­bell (whose day job is work­ing as a fi­nan­cial ac­coun­tant for the Three Blue Ducks Group) are women from all ar­eas of the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try, in­clud­ing chef Jane Strode; CEO of the Dedes Wa­ter­front Group, Lisa Hobbs; and Lisa Mar­gan, di­rec­tor of Mar­gan Wines.

“WoHo has about 300 mem­bers, in­clud­ing some of the largest [hos­pi­tal­ity] em­ploy­ers; there's a def­i­nite buzz around the or­gan­i­sa­tion and its cause. As well as run­ning a lot of events, we also have an on­line por­tal where mem­bers can build a pro­file and post in fo­rums. The idea is if you’re a young chef or res­tau­ra­teur who can’t af­ford a som­me­lier, you can ask some­one what’s been done else­where and a trained som­me­lier can an­swer,” says Camp­bell. “Ad­di­tion­ally, we have a men­tor­ing pro­gram where we have the likes of Fred’s head chef Danielle Al­varez and chef, au­thor and culi­nary am­bas­sador Chris­tine Man­field.” www. wom­enin­hos­pi­tal­ity.org.

FROM TOP Chef Alex Her­bert, a strong Women in Hos­pi­tal­ity sup­porter; WoHo founder Ju­lia Camp­bell; Anna Pavoni’s Sotto So­pra restau­rant.

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