Evolving Human Resource Practices In The Tourism IndustryNovember 14, 2019
In the midst of the bustling district of Miraflores in Lima Peru, Girasoles Hotel welcomes guests with a stylish and modern space to rest their head and experience Lima. Their tagline says it all: “Your goal is ours”. Taking to heart the variety of needs of their guests, the hotel and its staff are dedicated to providing a haven where every guest can enjoy a fulfilling visit and the diverse experiences Peru offers.
At the heart of its operations is its staff members who welcome and serve guests with bright and warm smiles, bringing to life the name of the establishment, Girasoles, meaning sunflower. The hotel is proudly managed and operated by Ms. Vanessa Lock Reyna.
Ms. Reyna is also part of Asociación Femenina de Ejecutivas de Empresas de Turismo (AFEET), a nationwide non-profit trade association dedicated to creating and promoting social and sustainable tourism practices. The organization wants to transform the sector to ensure women can fully participate in and contribute to the country’s economic growth through tourism.
With over 100 members in four major regions of Peru, AFEET has a wide reach. Nevertheless, AFEET operates on a small scale and has not fully utilized its influence, challenged by the lack of engagement from its membership who are so widely spread out geographically. In 2017, AFEET signed a partnership with CESO to improve its value proposition, strengthen its operations and organizational practices, as well as provide training and development opportunities for its members.
Since then, CESO and its expert Volunteer Advisors have worked closely with AFEET and its membership to build a strong foundation for the partnership. In 2018, a CESO expert Volunteer Advisor travelled to Lima, Peru to deliver a gender equality workshop. The workshop aimed at strengthening the voice and leadership of women in the sector.
Ms. Reyna attended the workshop delivered in Lima, Peru where Cheryl Hebert, the CESO expert Volunteer Advisor, outlined several concepts to help AFEET members improve, develop and implement gender-sensitive policies in their operations. While the bigger goal of the workshop was to increase female leadership in the sector, Cheryl delivered a workshop that highlighted practical opportunities to improve the status quo for tourism workers, especially female staff.
Work-life balance could be particularly challenging for tourism workers. From working long hours, to the lack of health benefits available to tourism workers, work-life balance could be challenging, if not non-existent. This is even truer for women in the sector.
While there are public policies to support women on maternity leave, there are certain practices within private establishments that prevent women from resuming their positions after pregnancy. Peruvian legislation states female employees are entitled to 90 days of paid maternity leave. Often, however, contracts of female employees are terminated after the three-month period. After the workshop, the hotel’s administration realized that one of the ways to enhance working conditions for female employees was to modify their labour protection policies to ensure contracts will be reinstated after 90 days of maternity leave.
Additionally, after attending the workshop, the hotel administration decided to offer employees private healthcare services. “The improvement has produced direct benefits for our employees and our hotel. There’s been a significant decline to sick leave, and our staff is happier,” says Ms. Reyna of the change that’s been implemented. Essentially, the benefit has helped staff to quickly access healthcare services that would otherwise take a longer period within the public system.
The work started with AFEET has brought tremendous changes to high-level corporate policies and business daily activities. It has opened doors and broken barriers for women’s participation in Peru’s economic growth and social advancement.