Inclusion at the heart of IWD 2024

This year the theme of International Women's Day, taking place on 8 March, puts diversity at the center as it urges the world to 'inspire inclusion'

The theme for International Women’s Day this year, taking place on 8 March, serves as a rallying cry for more women to be appointed to senior leadership roles.

In a nod to the phrase, “You can’t be what you can’t see”, the organizers of the annual celebration recognize that the promotion of diversity in leadership and decision-making positions inspires younger people to aspire to those same roles.

Fair representation in foodservice

This is not new in the foodservice world where, despite representation of women in the kitchen continuing to be low, those female chefs have created a collegiate and nurturing community encouraging younger women to join too.

Though the number is growing, it is slow: An effort to survey the global panorama by the international magazine Chefs Pencil in 2022 found that just 6% of the world’s top restaurants were led by female chefs. The research, which considered 2,286 Michelin-starred restaurants across the world and the 100 restaurants in the extended list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants found that while about a quarter of chefs are women, the number making it to the top is still very low.

It is not just about representation but wage equality has to be considered too. Data USA found that female chefs in the US earned on average $6000 less than male colleagues.

There is cause for optimism, though – the wider picture shows that there are more women working in restaurants generally (not just at the high end) and several countries reported an increase in numbers in the past decade. In the UK for example the number of women working in restaurants increased by a third to 25% between 2016 and 2022.

Championing women in Foodservice Consultant

In the spirit of inspiring inclusion, we highlight some of the fantastic women we have featured in FCSI’s Foodservice Consultant magazine in recent times.

Adejoké Bakare of Chishuru in London recently became the first female black chef in the UK to receive a Michelin star.

Nora Fitzgerald Belahcen embodies the sentiment of inspiring women in Morocco where her restaurant and learning project Amal has empowered and enabled hundreds of women. She told us about it in a fascinating podcast interview.

Ebru Baybara Demir was the recipient of the 2023 World Basque Culinary Prize for her tireless work in promoting the  culinary heritage of her region in Turkey.

Ana Ros, the self-taught chef who singlehandly put Slovenia on the gastronomic map with her restaurant Hisa Franko.

Not forgetting all the brilliant FCSI consultants who are making their mark on the foodservice sector across the world in their project work – among them FCSI Senior Associate Sojo Alex of Envision Strategies who talked about the work her team did at Georgia Tech Dining.

It is easy to appreciate the wonderful work that these and female colleagues are achieveing on this International Women’s Day – and every day.

Tina Nielsen

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