Empowering Women in the Workplace

According to the United States Census Bureau, in the U.S., women make up 50.8% of the U.S. population and hold close to 52% of jobs at S&P 500 companies. However, in those jobs only 14.6% are executives, 8.1% are top wage earners and 4.6% are CEOs. This is only one of many statistics illustrating the gender gap in leadership and empowerment around the world. The United Nations (UN) has included “achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls” as one of its sustainable development goals, and the 2016 International Women’s Day Forum, held on March 7 and 8 of this year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, focused on “The Business of Inclusion: Global Prosperity Through Women and Girls Empowerment.”

As founding partners of IMPACT 2030, the business-led effort to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Herve Humler, President and Chief Operations Officer for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., and leaders from IBM, Tata Consultancy and UPS participated in a panel discussion. Together they discussed how Impact 2030 partners and the UN could collaborate on tackling the problem of gender inequality by engaging employees more effectively and supporting volunteerism.

“The whole two days was all about finding new opportunities for women,” said Nicki Allen, Manager, Community Footprints with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, “keeping women inspired to not only enter the workforce but to remain in the workforce and to then progress into opportunities for leadership.” Mr. Humler highlighted efforts to help align young ladies with goals and career opportunities post-graduation through our Succeed Through Service mentoring program. Specifically, students growing up in the communities surrounding our hotels get to learn about careers in hospitality, the skills required and enjoy mentorship from Ritz-Carlton employees, known as Ladies and Gentlemen. Here are four ways your organization can better support female employees and inspire them to grow as leaders every day.

1) Support from Senior Leadership

Ensuring that senior leadership supports change of any kind is the first step toward seeing any potential difference in the work environment. Many attendees of the Forum likened the relationship between teachers and students to that of bosses and employees. Historically, male bosses have viewed their female colleagues as subordinates instead of as potential leaders. Looking through that lens, how are women ever going to be regarded as the leaders? The first states that organizations should integrate gender equality into their company-wide goals and should also ensure that company policies and culture actively work toward equality and inclusion. Regardless if one is a woman or a man (but especially if you are a man) in a senior leadership position, it is important to support the success of your employees equally. If senior leaders do not show that equality and inclusion are a priority to them, the rest of the organization will, unfortunately, follow suit. At The Ritz-Carlton, our commitment to diversity is articulated primarily in our Employee Promise. Furthermore, the Employee Promise, Motto and our Key Success Factors (company-wide goals) explicitly speak about our values and goals with regard to both “Ladies and Gentlemen,” avoiding vague or masculine-tilted language, which the UN also cautions against in the second Women’s Empowerment Principle. Finally, the UN does provide training resources to help your employees advance gender equality in the workplace.

2) Mentoring

It is already known that mentorship supports employee engagement and employee retention; however, women have historically not had the same access to mentors as men. In a book talk by Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, Ms. Sandberg suggests that male executives might feel uncomfortable forging a mentoring relationship with a female colleague because they want to ensure they maintain a professional image. In other words, they avoid one-on-one time with female colleagues to avoid looking like they are having an affair. With this in mind, it is once again up to senior leaders to demonstrate that ladies and gentlemen alike can be each other’s mentors and mentees in a way that is professional and productive. Mr. Bob Kharazmi, Global Officer, Worldwide Operations for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., articulates the idea that it’s about all employees, not just men: “The first and most important priority for a leader is his or her people. No matter where we want to go—no matter what our belief is—no matter what our destination is—we are not going to go alone. We are going with our employees, our Ladies and Gentlemen … We have to take time to spend one-on-one time—either in person or over the phone. We have to make sure that we are staying in touch with them.”

3) Education and Training

Daniela Ligiero, Vice President of Girls and Women Strategy, United Nations Foundation, identified time as one the largest barriers to empowerment for women across the globe. Most women bear greater responsibility for taking care of their homes and family than men do, which limits the amount of time outside their workday that women have to learn and grow. Although a company may not be able to affect how their female employees’ home life works, the company can provide more opportunities for training and development that can occur during the workday. Many organizations have their own internal learning platforms that they can highlight to support women’s leadership development, decision-making skills or any other topics that are particularly in demand from female employees. Even if your organization does not have this kind of infrastructure, several external organizations such as universities and edX offer such services at low or no cost. How do you determine what your female employees want to learn? According to the UN, one company took it upon themselves to form a committee to identify challenges for women in the workplace and address those challenges by providing training and other programming for women in their company.

4) Volunteering

Just as the ladies should be given greater ability to learn, they should also be given the opportunity to teach the skills they have. “We believe that when our employees share their skills, knowledge and experience to inspire young students,” said Mr. Humler, “they teach the importance of social skills, positivity, collaboration and having a clear vision for a successful future.” This can be particularly valuable if female employees share skills that are not traditionally associated with women such as data analysis or coding. When young girls have the opportunity to see women work and lead in a variety of fields, it shows that the possibilities are endless. Two examples of organizations supporting women sharing their skills include Girls Who Code and WomenOnCall.

By implementing measures to better empower women in the workplace, organizations can improve their engagement as well as support women’s ability to excel in their jobs. Companies can set a new precedent for gender equality that not only affects the workplace, but also society in general. 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.

Significant Stat: Work Passion and Career Ambition

“Today more than twice as many employees are motivated by work passion than career ambition (12 percent vs. 5 percent), indicating a need for leadership to focus on making the work environment compelling and enjoyable for everyone.” (source)

Advice from Jeff Hargett, Senior Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

When I think about passionate employees vs. ambitious employees, I don’t believe someone is either one or the other. I surmise that each of us has both traits, like hunger and thirst, joy and despair. My thoughts instead are drawn to the act of “motivating.” If an employee is motivated by passion, they tend to gravitate to those activities that feed their passion. Passion seems to be more “heart” related—while ambition is thought of more intellectually or “head” related. Passion is motived internally; Ambition, externally. The thoughts of an ambitious employee take us to the intersection of “Getting Ahead Avenue” and “Climbing the Ladder Street.” John Hagel III states the importance of worker passion beautifully in his article, Passion versus Ambition: Did Steve Jobs have worker passion?, saying “Those (large traditional institutions) that have employees focused on learning and performance, who embrace new challenges and experiment with new ideas, will have a better chance of navigating a complex and shifting global environment than those with a workforce focused on racking up positive performance reviews and climbing ladders.”  Whether you are passionate or ambitious, finding what motivates you is most important.

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.

DOs and DON’Ts of Enlivening Organizational Culture

The above infographic, “DOs and DON’Ts of Enlivening Organizational Culture,” is based on a previous blog post. If you would like a printable pdf of this infographic, please email us

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.

Five Effective Ways to Motivate Your Team

Great leaders know how to effectively motivate their employees, but knowing how to motivate employees and finding the time to do it aren’t simple tasks. Organizations that have motivated and engaged employees are typically 21% more productive and 22% more profitable. Yet, while 90% of business leaders think an engagement strategy has an impact on business success, barely 25% of them have a strategy. Here are five ways that could help motivate your team, create a happier work environment and increase productivity.

1. Share the Organizational Vision

When employees identify themselves solely by their job function and day-to-day tasks, they are looking at their role in your organization through a small lens. They may not see how their efforts impact the success of your organization as a whole, and consequently, they may not feel as motivated to give their very best. Barry Schwartz, a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, points out in his article in The New York Times that “most of all, we want work that is meaningful — that makes a difference to other people and thus ennobles us in at least some small way.”

Leaders must show employees a bigger picture—a sense of purpose. At The Ritz-Carlton, our highest mission is to provide “genuine care and comfort of our guests.” The employees of The Ritz-Carlton—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—know that whether their job is to clean rooms, clean dishes or calculate payroll, their purpose is the same. This greater purpose is emphasized through our Gold Standards and enlivened through Daily Line-Up.

2. Make People Feel Appreciated

One of the greatest needs we have is to be appreciated. Author Victor Lippman notes that feeling valued at work “can be a difference maker, at times allowing employees to accept lower compensation, or longer hours, or the inevitable frustrations that accompany difficult tasks.”

Valuing the contribution of our Ladies and Gentlemen is an important part of The Ritz-Carlton culture. Our Employee Promise recognizes that “our Ladies and Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests.” When Herve Humler, President and Chief Operations Officer at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., goes to the openings of new hotels, he says to the Ladies and Gentlemen, “I’m the president of the company, and I’m a very important person.” Then he tells them, “But you are more important than I am. If I run the best hospitality company in the world, it’s only because of what you do.” When leaders recognize the contributions of employees, they will feel more valued and appreciated.

3. Encourage Innovation and Improvement

When you rally all of your employees to help your organization improve, then not only will your organization benefit, but your employees will be more engaged in your operation. They will no longer be passive spectators on the sidelines—instead they will be active participants and contributors.

One of the Service Values at The Ritz-Carlton states “I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.” One way The Ritz-Carlton fosters a collaborative culture is through a platform referred to as Lions Share. Lions Share is the repository of ideas for improvement and innovation from all hotels around the world.

4. Offer Learning Opportunities

Giving employees the chance to learn new things will prevent them from feeling stagnant. Along with providing stimulation, learning new skills has an additional benefit. It keeps your employees up-to-date and relevant. An article in The Washington Post points out, “With today’s more complex business environment, learning is not just a nice thing to do — it is essential for staying on top of things.”

The Ritz-Carlton culture promotes learning through an annual personal development plan. In addition, Ladies and Gentlemen can fulfill the Service Value “I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow” by receiving training through onboarding, mentoring, lateral service, cross training or online and in-person courses.

5. Celebrate Each Success

Often we are so focused on an overall goal that we may forget to celebrate the milestones on the way to success. Even the smallest team achievements are worthy of celebration. It helps your employees and your teams to recognize progress. It gives them evidence that their work is making an impact, and by recognizing even small improvements you’re showing your team that their work is valued. Taking the time to applaud improvements can refresh and revitalize your staff.

At The Ritz-Carlton, we celebrate the contributions of others through First Class cards. These 4” by 5” cards are handwritten “thank you” notes typically given from any employee to any other employee, group of employees or department for exemplary or outstanding actions that go above and beyond expectations and standards. Employees often display their First Class cards, and this serves as a visual reminder of The Ritz-Carlton culture of recognition.

Motivate Your Team Through Organizational Culture

Employee motivation is not something that can be easily remedied by adding a few perks. In an interview, David Ulrich, a business professor at University of Michigan and co-author of The Why of Work, noted that “A leader can let you bring your parrot to work or give you a gift certificate but, as isolated events, they don’t change much. Leaders need to recognize that offering meaningful work has to become an integral part of the culture of their organizations. Out of that will flow a deeper and longer commitment.” By integrating motivational techniques into your organizational culture, you’re implementing a sustainable, engagement strategy that will have a lasting impact on your employees’ happiness and on the success of your organization. 

Join us for a one-day symposium on November 12th. Take advantage of the early-bird rate and sign-up by September 1st. The day includes a Ritz-Carlton executive panel with Herve Humler, president & chief operations officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.

Dear Ritz-Carlton: Employee Burnout?

Dear Ritz-Carlton: How do you handle employee burnout or engage employees who have lost their passion?

Answer from Diana Oreck, Former Vice President at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

Diana Oreck PhotoThe best leaders know how to inspire their employees to get out of bed every day and bring their passion to work and volunteer their best. They can even do this with employees who seem burnt out and have lost their passion. Here are some techniques that can work:

  1. Give the employee specific examples of when they have excelled and gone above and beyond in the past. Share recent examples of when the employee has appeared disengaged. Ask if something is bothering the employee because you would like to help. Your intent is not to criticize but to assist in motivating the person to attain their former passion.
  2. Remind the employee of their purpose versus their function. Examples: An Environmental Services (EVS) staff member in a hospital is not just cleaning a patient’s room. They are looking carefully at the patient. If something appears wrong they can run to get a nurse. This can save lives. A financial advisor is not just giving tips about how to grow money. They are providing security and peace of mind.
  3. Explain to the employee that he/she is a member of the “A” team. When everyone is not pulling his or her weight, it lets down the team.

Motivating disengaged employees is not easy, but it can be done. It is also time consuming, but you should invest the time. Disengaged team members exhaust their colleagues and that is not fair to anyone.

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.