The hospitality industry is on the brink of a major transformation due to rapid globalization, and companies that embrace this change and adapt are going to realize a significant competitive advantage. As the consumer base grows to incorporate more cultures and ethnicities, many businesses are turning their attention to diversity and inclusion practices, and moreover, making them a core part of corporate training. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than half of organizations say they have policies that promote diversity or inclusion strongly or very strongly, and only three percent do not promote these aspects at all. These efforts are likely to pay off, too. For hospitality firms to ensure long-term success in the face of an ever-changing populace, they will need to make all staff and customers feel valued.
A Bevy of Benefits
According to a report by the Purdue Tourism and Hospitality Research Center, approximately 54 percent of the total US population will be African American, Hispanic, Asian, or mixed by 2050. So it makes sense that diversity has been on the forefront of business leaders’ minds.
One of the primary ways in which these initiatives can be beneficial is that they promote an environment based on equality and fairness while also fueling global competitiveness. Companies with robust diversity and inclusion programs are better able to leverage employees’ unique strengths and potential, thus fueling productivity and workplace effectiveness. Additionally, these companies are able to more efficiently work within global markets and increase market share.
Purdue also noted that when workers of all backgrounds feel accommodated and appreciated, there is a stronger sense of loyalty to the company, which can reduce turnover rates. Not only that, but the report emphasized that diversity programs may be able to resolve certain problems or prevent them altogether by improving employee communication skills and minimizing misunderstandings. When employees are put through diversity awareness training, they are better able to communicate appropriately with other staff as well as customers from a variety of different cultures. Although clearly businesses of all types can reap these rewards, the hospitality industry in particular stands much to gain. As success depends on reaching global markets and superior customer service, forward-thinking companies will invest more time, money, and effort into diversity and inclusion programs.
So how are top hospitality firms going about these initiatives?
Brands Leading the Pack
A leading hospitality brand that has made diversity and inclusion a core aspect of the business strategy is Marriott. These efforts are crucial to the company’s success, especially with a continually growing global business portfolio.
In an effort to improve its initiatives, Marriott has implemented a number of multicultural workshops and tools to build awareness about cultural differences among managers. Specifically, Marriott International has emphasized language skills as a critical aspect of business success, and the brand has prided itself on being a thought leader in the field of employer-supported language learning. Its language training programs, which provide instruction technologies in more than 30 languages to managers and other employees, benefit the brand reputation, the client base, and the staff.
As a result of these actions, Marriott has been named one of the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces by “Great Place to Work” and has been honored as Corporation of the Year by the Executive Leadership Council for championing inclusion. Marriott was also honored with the Migration Policy Institute’s Corporate Leadership Award for its extensive language development programs for staff at all levels.
Another brand that has made significant strides in regard to multicultural inclusion is Starwood. These efforts have been rewarded as well: The company has made DiversityInc’s annual Top 50 Companies for Diversity List more than once, and has moved up more than 20 spots in the process due to an increasing focus on diversity. According to DiversityInc, Starwood President and CEO Frits van Paasschen has stated that 20 percent of his senior executives’ bonuses are directly linked to specific diversity goals. A strong diversity council, a formal mentoring program, and language-training courses all contribute to the inclusive workplace culture at Starwood.