Gender Equity and Equality in Hospitality: A Conversation

Significant progress has been made to improve gender equity and equality in the workplace and beyond in recent decades. Remember when women couldn’t get a credit card in their own name without a co-signer? That was 50 years ago. From having your own credit card to improving female representation in leadership to grassroots efforts to decreasing the gender pay gap, valuable advances have been made. However, the work isn’t done yet. According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum, it will take 135 years to close the global gender pay gap if we continue at the current rate of progress.

March 8th is International Women’s Day and a time to recognize the progress women have made around the world for equity and equality while also highlighting the areas where there is still work to be done.

As part of our larger Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives at Compass Community Living, we work to recognize the contributions of our women team members and voice our recommitment towards increasing gender equity and gender inclusivity.

As part of the ongoing gender equity and equality conversation, we recently sat down with Ellen Lowre, Vice President of Nutrition, Wellness & Sustainability at Compass Community Living to hear her perspective on inspiration, empowering others and overcoming barriers.

Who was your inspiration in your professional growth and why? 

I have taken inspiration from so many impressive mentors in various industries throughout my career.  I have been fortunate to work closely with leaders who have encouraged me to take on challenges I may not have felt fully ready or confident enough to step into at that time.  Taking that first step on a new challenge and into that “unknown zone” has always been the most difficult but I have found that every time you challenge yourself and realize that you can be successful, it makes it easier the next time and ultimately pushes you further professionally.

How do you empower other women?  

I strive to make an impact and empower both women and men in my professional life.   As a Registered Dietitian, this profession is currently about 92% female so there is need for broader diversity in this specific career path. I also aim to carve out a place for RDs in the leadership space. This topic was the focus of our team project at the recent Leadership Institute with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and I personally think RDs make for amazing leaders!

What has been the most significant barrier in your career and how did you overcome (or are still overcoming) that barrier? 

This is a tough one.  Every new challenge can feel like something significant to overcome.  I think the biggest thing I have learned and can relay to others who may be earlier in their career is that you will always come through to the other side and you will always be stronger and more confident.  But then the next challenge comes along and might feel it is impossible but with the same dedication and determination, you will get through that one too and again come out stronger.

How do you balance life and work?

Everything in life is about balance.  I do this by taking time for myself every morning to exercise and make it a priority to disconnect from work on the weekends and spend quality time with my family and friends.

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Stress less and don’t sweat the small stuff. Many things that you spend time worrying about now are not as significant as they might feel in the moment and you probably won’t even remember down the road.


Thank you, Ellen, for sharing your perspective and how you work to maintain balance in life and work and your approach to “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” As we look toward how we can empower women and increase gender equity for generations to come, it is indeed valuable to focus on the big picture.

With women representing more than 60% of our team members nationwide at CCL, we strive to continue supporting them in their career growth and development while recognizing that everyone starts from different places in their journey, so acknowledging each individual is unique and the support and resources needed to break down the decades of exclusion and lack of access will look different for everyone.

By embracing the complexity of this journey in the hospitality industry and actively supporting a future where every woman has the opportunity to succeed and thrive, we can celebrate the long list of benefits that a more gender inclusive workforce provides to all organizations.  

About Compass Community Living

Compass Community Living (CCL) is a division of Compass Group, a global culinary and support services leader. With over 15,000 associates nationwide, CCL offers the expertise of three powerhouse brands – Morrison Living, Coreworks and Unidine. CCL provides collaborative partnerships, emphasizing hospitality and service excellence, for over 850 retirement communities and behavioral health facilities across the country. Together, our family of companies deliver an experience known for innovation and a passion for service with proven management and strong operational infrastructure.

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