AAHOA CHAIRMAN (2020-2021)
Diversity is one of the great strengths of American society. It is also a fundamental pillar of the American Dream. America has long been considered the “Land of Opportunity,” where anyone can forge a better life and future through prudence, hard work, and perseverance. However, opportunity is not always equal. Ethnicity, race, gender, and religion have long been the bases for discrimination in this country, and our industry faces challenging questions of its own on the matter.
More than 30 years ago, the founders of AAHOA united to overcome discrimination in their business pursuits. And today as the AAHOA Chairman, I am honored to further our work toward preserving the American Dream by protecting free enterprise, equal access, and inclusion. I’m thankful, in today’s climate, the discrimination that spurred AAHOA’s creation is not as prevalent. While we work to further the interests and status of America’s hoteliers, we must also look within our own businesses to promote anti-discrimination, diversity, and inclusion among those we employ.
AAHOA Members are at the forefront of the hospitality industry, owning and operating nearly half of the hotels and motels in the country, and supporting thousands of employees. As a hospitality business, our teams are the lifeblood of the business and cornerstones of the guest experience. Recruiting, retaining, and empowering our talented employees remains an essential part of the business. To better your workplace and your business, look to renew a commitment to engaging talent of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and abilities.
We are accountable to the people we employee and the communities we serve. Ultimately, our accountability begins and ends in the professional environment we foster. No guest should feel unwelcome, and no employee should feel excluded, demeaned, or boxed in. Whether you send out surveys, field manager reports, or speak directly with your employees, check in to see their perspective on the workplace culture and their career aspirations. Hiring an excellent and diverse team is not enough; we are obligated to make our employees feel comfortable and welcomed while advocating for the development of their skills and careers.
A company’s culture flows from the top down. Increasing diverse representation in leadership and critical roles can bring nuanced insights and perspectives to your organization. Equal opportunities and transparency should be the foundation of upward mobility in your organization, and for good reasons. When you invest in the long-term success and retention of your team members, you empower them to flourish in their professional life. But this attention must be focused on diverse and inclusive initiatives, promotions, and opportunities. A varied range of backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences will bring nuanced perspectives and voices to the way your business operates.
Of course, we must look to promote diversity not just in our businesses but also in our extended communities. It is not too late nor ever more paramount to be an exemplary neighbor. When it comes to accountable diversity – initiatives to help all members of our communities, industry, and businesses achieve access to economic and social mobility – we must remain steadfast in commitments to just, fair, and equitable action. To achieve a cohesive, truly united society, we must champion the unique talents, backgrounds, and cultures of our peers. Strengthening diversity and inclusion is absolutely essential, and the future of our industry rests in our hands.