In 2018 the role of corporate hostess hit the headlines when two reporters from the Financial Times went undercover at a Presidents Club charity event. The corporate hostess dress code was reportedly ‘skimpy black outfits and high heels’ and the undercover team exposed a catalogue of inappropriate behaviour on the night – hostesses being propositioned, sexual harassed and even groped.
Understandably this revelation cast a dark shadow across the whole industry, and we can all be pleased that it’s powerful journalism led to real change. But the reality is that this event was never representative of the sector as a whole. The corporate hostess role is actually a very important one within corporate hospitality – and with the right skills and credentials, a corporate hostess can have a very positive influence on a guest experience without them feeling like they’re being exploited or disrespected.
In the vast majority of cases, corporate hostesses are expected to be both highly experienced and professional at all times. Yes, their appearance matters – but only in how smart they look, and it is no more important for corporate hostesses as it is for their male host equivalents.
At Mash, our corporate hostesses have a measurably different profile to that of our promotional staff. Firstly, they tend to be slightly older. This is partly to ensure they have the right experience – hosting corporate guests successfully requires the ability to problem solve ‘on your feet’ without appearing flustered or uncertain, and this only comes with experience. The second reason for this is that maturity and self-assurance help guests feel at ease, and give the corporate hostesses enough life experience to know the correct balance between approachability and discretion.
Another difference between corporate hostess staff and promotional staff is their personality type. While it is important that our corporate hostesses are friendly and welcoming, they also need to be understated, and even reserved if the moment requires it. They must be patient – the same questions will be asked and they need to be as polite and helpful on the hundredth time as they were on the first. And of course our corporate hostesses need to be hardworking. Events can be long, tiring and very busy – and they must stay fresh and invigorated throughout, sometimes late into the evening.
Being a corporate hostess is not an easy role, and delivering it successfully requires particular skills and work experience. These are the elements that are important to us at Mash – never dress size or hair colour.