Creating opportunities rather than looking for them
Believe it or not, things have been improving. If you think the food industry is under-representative now, imagine what it was like in the ’80s. With over 30 years working in the hospitality industry, Victoria Vega knows firsthand how powerful the need is for women to not only assume leadership roles, but mentor the next generation once they get there.
“Kitchens were male-dominated and there was a lack of women representation and leadership, and opportunities were scarce,” she says. “I had to self-motivate to position myself for advancement and actively seek out women role models in the industry that I could emulate. The executives ranks within the hospitality industry don’t mirror the diverse workforce that exists today.”
And Vega would know. She’s the VP of food operations of Unidine, a boutique food and management company in Boston, where she uses her experience to guide women through the industry.
The industry vet has been very busy carving out spaces for future leaders to grow in every nook and cranny she can find. She is the cofounder of the Unidine Women’s Leadership Networking group, which builds skills for leadership roles and upward mobility for women in the Boston area and beyond. She also uses her platform for good as the president of the Society for Hospitality and Food Service Management, where she recently established a diversity council. To top it all off, she is actively involved in mentorship programs in her alma mater. (How many calls from your college have you dodged this year?)
“It is well-known that a diverse workforce is a more productive, idea-generating workforce that breeds successful organizations, and every company should be striving to achieve that in 2018,” says Vega. Her council aims “to help corporations understand how diversity creates valuable business opportunities and drives innovation.
Vega’s work shows businesses a practical incentive to what’s morally obvious: an overdue moment is ultimately good for all.