(Female) Leadership in Hospitality

5 min read
Aug 31, 2023 1:31:00 PM

The success of a hotel rests on its team. In an industry heavily reliant on services and customer satisfaction, a skilled and motivated team is crucial. Dr. Verena Jaeschke and Tini Diekmann from the Hotel Oderberger in Berlin share in GRANT how an inclusive company culture can be a sustainable solution to staffing challenges, and even more: how creating a work environment where both men and women receive equal opportunities and recognition might transform an entire industry.

Equality in the hotel business – as in most sectors – is not yet a given. However, at Hotel Oderberger, the narrative is different: The CEO is female. Her two daughters are next in line for the CEO position and also serve in managerial or hotel administration roles. Many of the departments at Oderberger are led by mothers, and the CEO herself, a mother of three, exemplifies that motherhood and leadership can coexist.


GRANT: How do you ensure an equal work environment through female leadership?

Verena Jaschke: It starts with the company culture. What culture do lead- ers showcase internally? What do we focus on? What kind of imagery and language do our job ads and websites use? How do we position ourselves on topics like gender, diversi- ty, and work-life balance? These aren’t trivial matters but are of prime importance. This way, we ensure that we address a broader audience for leadership positions and encourage our amazing internal talents.

Continuous training is crucial here. New leaders receive lead- ership training right from the start, and if needed, coaching sessions – thus they are supported in their growth into the new role. There are various formats for regular exchanges and feedback – within the team, with leaders, or with inde- pendent confidants.


GRANT: In the service sectors of hotels, women are overrepresented, but they are underrepresented in leadership. What do you do differently?

V.J.: Regarding women in leadership, work-life balance is vi- tal. We have had great experiences with part-time leadership roles and tandem models – which appeal to parents, but also to young professionals valuing a balanced life, regardless of whether they are parents or just wish to have time for other projects.

For instance, the Food & Events department – consisting of roughly 25 individuals – is led by a leadership tandem. The same applies to our executive board, where after our CEO and founder Barbara Jaeschke, we have a tandem consisting of my sister (soon to be a mother and working part-time) and myself.

Part-time models are also well-received, for example, in breakfast management and the bar manager role. With ef- fective work organization, this is achievable and ensures a better functioning environment for the team.



(Female) Leadership in Hospitality

The hospitality sector is vibrant and dynam-ic, always in search of innovative approach- es. Why do we even need to discuss female leadership? Given the growing shortage of skilled workers and emerging new work concepts, it is about time for new leadership models.Diverse teams are notably more successful than homogenous groups. Yet, even today, there is no gender parity in leadership roles, not only in the hotel industry.



GRANT: Does this positively affect staff retention, both at the specialist and leadership level, for the hotel?

V.J.: As a company, we clearly benefit from ensuring that professional and personal commitments are balanced, re- gardless of gender and role stereotypes. I percieve the ste- reotype that women in hotels can’t progress in their career because they need to be available 24/7 as outdated. We provide flexible work-time solutions for both mothers (and fathers) and anyone who needs flexibility for various reasons.


It’s about encouraging people, regardless of gender or cultural background, to become part of the industry and ascend to leadership roles.
Tini Diekmann

Hotel Oderberger Berlin



GRANT: What does this mean in terms of the organization and execution of daily tasks?

V.J.: We implement several measures. For instance, work schedules are set at least two weeks in advance to better accommodate personal requests.
We allow sabbaticals, and for PC-related jobs, workations are an option. If overtime occurs, it can be compensated in full days.
On Fridays, there are no overarching meetings, and from Monday to Thursday, meetings only occur between 11 am and 3 pm – this ensures participation, regardless of whether one works early or late shifts.




GRANT: How do you use your network to promote the exchange and collaboration for women in the hotel industry?

Tini Diekmann: I’m actively involved in organizing the Revenue Ladies Roundtable in Berlin, as well as the Mews (PMS) Roundtable and the Berlin Boutique Hotel Roundtable. I believe women are particularly good networkers because they are well- organized, consistently set up meetings, love networking, and are inherently social. At the Ladies Revenue Roundtable, there’s less of an elbow mentality, and without alpha males, the exchange is somehow more genuine. ;)


You often hears statements like ‘women don’t want to,’ ‘there’s a lack of qualified female leaders,’ or ‘there’s a lack of com- mitment.’ But perhaps we just need to shift our perspective – our heads are round for a reason: so our thinking can change its directions.
Dr. Verena Jaeschke

Hotel Oderberger Berlin


GRANT: What do you prioritize when it comes to recruiting?

T.D.: We focus on promoting diversity within teams. There is a reason we’ve signed the Charter of Diversity and are members of the Pink Pillow Hotel Association Berlin. We also actively foster diversity in the recruiting process. We treat all lifestyles equally and don’t discriminate in salaries. Currently, at our reception, even among full-time staff, we have 2 men working part-time, while all women work full-time. So, you won’t find any stereotypes with us. ;)




Hotel Oderberger & GLS Sprachenzentrum Berlin

The Hotel Oderberger Berlin is a heritage-listed boutique hotel locat- ed on the GLS Language Center campus. Dr. Verena Jaeschke, a sec- ond-generation entrepreneur, passionate hostess, and proud daughter, manages the hotel. She is constantly pushing topics like sustainability, digitalization, and female entrepreneurship.
The GLS Language Center is one of the most prestigious providers of language and educational trips in the German-speaking market. Its portfolio includes language trips as well as school stays and internships abroad. The GLS Language School has been repeatedly honored as STAR SCHOOL Germany.
GRANT congratulates on the 40th anniversary!
GLS celebrates its 40th company anniversary in July 2023. Founded by Barbara Jaeschke as a one-person enterprise, it has transformed into an internationally established education company with its own campus in central Berlin, employing 150 individuals in education, tourism, and event management sectors, serving over 8,000 customers worldwide every year.
By the way: The Oderberger is part of the pink pillow berlin collection. The hotels of the pink pillow Berlin Connection recommend themselves to gay and lesbian guests by offering a professional and relaxed service. The hotels commit themselves to value all guests equally and to offer guests information material about Berlin's LGBTI scene.







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This Interview is taken from GRANT#4 – From Zero to Hero

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