Being the “boss lady” in a male dominated profession


Each year, International Women’s Day raises a variety of conversations about gender equity. In 2024, the focus is on inclusivity, with the theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’ looking at ways to combat bias, stereotypes, and discrimination in the quest for a gender equal world.

Here, Te Arkinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel Executive Chef, Nancye Pirini, spoke to HM about her experiences of inclusivity in the hotel industry.

What does inclusivity mean to you?

Inclusivity holds great significance for me. Through my experience in various kitchens, I’ve observed that diversity is a fundamental aspect of the culinary landscape here in Aotearoa. It is crucial to me that every member of the team feels a sense of belonging and is not left isolated.

Being Te Ao Māori, I understand the importance of embracing, honouring and respecting all cultures, religions, and backgrounds within my brigade. It is my responsibility to foster an environment where authenticity and inclusivity thrive, creating a space where everyone feels valued.

Is the hotel industry inclusive to both guests and employees, in your opinion?

Nancye Pirini

I can’t recall working in a hotel that didn’t prioritise inclusiveness at its core, and rightfully so. In our industry, acceptance is a fundamental principle, irrespective of appearances or personalities. Dealing with difficult guests is not uncommon, yet we persevere, and strive to provide the service they require. In these situations, our strength lies in treating every guest with the same level of respect. This commitment to respect and the guest experience shapes our identity and sets the tone for the hospitality we offer.

Do you have any first-hand experiences of inclusivity while travelling/staying in hotels/working in the industry?

In my personal experiences, there have been instances where I felt overlooked, for reasons unknown, leading to subpar treatment for me and my family as paying customers. On the flip side, I’ve also encountered exceptional service from individuals in the industry who go above and beyond, making me feel like a VIP in their establishment. The key for me is remembering where I’m welcomed and appreciated – and supporting those businesses – that’s what matters most.

How can the hotel industry do better to be more inclusive to guests and employees/colleagues?

Honestly, I believe we consistently go above and beyond, pushing forward when others might not bother. Take, for example, smaller businesses that have the luxury of choosing whom they deal with. In our case, it’s the guests who choose us.

At times, I think that the room for improvement lies not within the hotel itself but rather among those who provide services to the hotels, like contractors. I’ve encountered situations where contractors assume they’re seeking a male Executive Chef. It’s amusing to reflect on this now. Fortunately, I have earned such respect from my team that they never hesitate to clearly point me out, referring to me as the “boss lady” right in front of me!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *