Leveling the workplace playing field and addressing domestic violence
by SUNIL (SUNNY) TOLANI
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the globe, it has dealt a striking blow to incalculable facets of humanity. And working women, especially those occupying essential roles in hospitality, have been among the most affected, with their health often hanging in the balance. Women have fought hard to advance in the workplace, but the pandemic is unraveling some of these hard-won gains. Many women are now significantly more burned out than ever, which has taken a huge toll on their physical and mental health. As women represent the majority of single parents and caregivers for children and adults, this can create immense pressure, which can lead some choosing to downshift their career or leave the workforce entirely.
During the height of the pandemic, more men than ever were at home. This, coupled with the stress caused by the virus, led to a documented increase in reported cases of domestic violence and child abuse as a result. Domestic violence affects mostly women and can send their families into a tailspin, Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, and even digital. This private problem extends into the workplaces, with more than 83% of women noting that their abusive relationships disrupt their ability to work, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
More than one in three women experience sexual violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lives, in which the men seek to control the women through phycological, sexual, financial, and physical abuse. This can ultimately take an enormous physical and mental toll on a woman’s health.
To act as a lifeline in these situations, Prince Organization offers victims free, private hotels rooms along with help contacting authorities, while later making efforts to train and possibly hire these women. At minimum, they deserve respect and a life of dignity, pride, and purpose. We also train our employees to be aware of available resources and let them know they matter.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER
Throughout the country, women make up an estimated 90% of the workforce at hotels, but we shouldn’t accept that those who participate in caring for our guests are the least likely to be cared for themselves. Much has been made of the great resignation, but we believe it masks the sting of losing women, specifically. The impact that COVID-19 has had on women’s personal and professional lives will endure even after we either eradicate the virus or learn to live with its effects. As such, we believe it’s important to not only sound the alarm, but to take action to help women prioritize their health.
The pandemic brought a newfound sense of purpose among our employees, as they exude a sense of energy, ambition, desire, pride, and accomplishment in their daily work. The impact that can have, and the power that has more broadly on our organization, can’t be understated.
At Prince Organization, we believe women to be every bit as smart and capable as men, so we’re placing concerted efforts on the next generation of women hoteliers, conveying to them that hospitality is a place where extraordinary careers can be made.
March 8, International Women’s Day, is an occasion that has been used for more than a century to build awareness of the need for gender parity. The pandemic has made it obvious that we need to prioritize the role of health in achieving that vision of equity, including across and within our workforces. So, at Prince Organization, we give our hourly wage women employees paid time off on March 8. We encourage them to use that day or before and after (permitting schedules-and needs of guests) to make a commitment to their own health and the health of the women and children in their lives, which can include going to the doctor, taking stock of their own well-being, or reflecting on ways to affect change for women’s health overall.
We are working to create a healthier world for every woman, and like every year we use International Women’s Day to pause, reflect, and strengthen our commitment to that vision. Like the years before, we continue to give our employees paid time off to vote, while upholding virtues of respect and dignity as we continue to push for social and racial justice, and equality.
I have endeavored to put my money where my mouth is, and a portion of what I’ve earned selling clean, disinfected hotel rooms goes toward organizations that enrich and support America by providing healthcare, humanitarian relief, education, community support, and women’s empowerment.
Our focus has been giving a second chance, women’s wage equality, women’s welfare, and sexual harassment it’s our No. 1 priority.
We invite our fellow AAHOA Members and leaders to join in adopting initiatives that prioritize women’s health. This could mean creating additional time off dedicated to helping your employees attend to their health or ensuring your organization’s benefits and policies address the unique needs of women. As business leaders we can make a change to improve the health of women and be here for their health, personal, professional well-being.
Sunil (Sunny) Tolani is the CEO of Prince Organization and an AAHOA Lifetime Member. Prince Organization is a company with holdings across multiple industries, including numerous properties in the hospitality sector.