Hilton has launched a female empowerment program in Sri Lanka. The seven-month pilot aims to increase women’s participation in the hospitality labor force.
Hilton has partnered with the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) to launch Hilton Liya Diriya, a curated female development program in Sri Lanka.
According to a media release, Liya Diriya translates to “female courage.” The seven-month pilot program is designed to provide training opportunities for local female students who want to build careers in hospitality. Selected participants will be offered training to gain practical knowledge, skills and experience in two parts: a month-long course of theoretical training with SLITHM and a six-month industrial traineeship at one of Hilton’s Sri Lanka locations. Upon graduation, they will be awarded certifications and offered employment opportunities at Hilton properties in Sri Lanka or in other locations.
Hilton Liya Diriya aims to increase the historically lower labor force participation rate for women in Sri Lanka, which, according to the World Bank stands at just 34%. Currently, women make up less than 10% of the country’s hospitality workforce, compared to 54% globally.
The program is in line with Hilton’s Travel with Purpose 2030 goal of doubling its social impact investment, and with the company’s commitment to ensuring inclusive growth, sustainable solutions, and economic opportunities for all.
“In Sri Lanka, the female population is about 52%,” Paul Hutton, Vice President, Operations, Hilton in South East Asia, told Spa Executive. “Despite their willingness to take on employment opportunities, less than 10% of Sri Lankan ladies choose a career in hospitality.”
He goes on to explain, “There are numerous reasons for this disproportionate female representation in our industry but one common explanation would be social stigma, particularly among the older generation, where parents of young women may not be keen on their daughters joining the industry. However, across all three Hilton properties in Sri Lanka, we believe that inspiring, coaching and leading, both for potential hospitality are positive steps towards changing this misconception and balancing the gender inequality.”
Growing presence in Sri Lanka
Hilton is growing its presence in Sri Lanka. Last November saw the brand entry into the country of DoubleTree by Hilton with the opening of the newly-built, 78-room DoubleTree by Hilton Weerawila Rajawarna Resort. Located amongst lush bird sanctuaries and in the midst of three of Asia’s most visited wildlife parks, the resort features an exquisite ballroom, nature-inspired meeting spaces, and stunning restaurants and bars, which makes DoubleTree by Hilton Weerawila Rajawarna Resort a natural choice for business and leisure travelers alike.
Hilton Yala Resort & Spa, the company’s third property in Sri Lanka is scheduled to open in July 2022. Hutton says, “This is our first “Safari” hotel, which is a stunning all-villa hotel along the beach of the Yala national park for a truly ‘out of Africa’ experience in Asia. It will offer unique travel memories with the chance to see elephants and whales, two of the world’s largest mammals, within the same day.”
Also in the pipeline is DoubleTree By Hilton Negombo, which will be situated on Negombo beach.
Infinite growth opportunities in the hospitality and tourism industry
Hutton said, “Sri Lanka has shown immense potential for us over the years, evidenced by the resilience of the country, its promising tourism sector and ongoing improvements to infrastructure which have laid a strong foundation for us to kickstart our robust expansion plans.
He added: “In line with our growing presence in the country, we also want to continue honoring our founder, Conrad Hilton, and his ambition to be the most hospitable company in the world, by doing our part for the communities we operate in. Through the introduction of Hilton Liya Diriya, we hope to leverage our scale and capacity to advance women’s economic empowerment in the country by identifying and developing the best local talents, and I look forward to seeing them excel in their careers with us.”
Hilton hopes that Hilton Liya Diriya will provide participants with a starting point in their professional career, which will increase their per capita earnings, improve their working conditions and most importantly, give them access to infinite growth opportunities in the hospitality and tourism industry, said Hutton.
“Despite the challenges caused by the health pandemic, we continue to recognize Sri Lanka’s long-term prospects and have doubled down on our commitment to putting the country on the global roadmap.
“Our increased footprint will help us further leverage our scale and capacity to empower more women economically. It is my hope that through identifying and developing the best local talent, we will be able to help many women excel in their careers and develop the best version of themselves both personally and professionally.”
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