Diversity of talent: Are hotels meeting the challenge?

One of the greatest joys of teaching in an international city such as New York is the breadth of diverse students that come to my university. We often think first of color, creed, culture or country of origin when reading the word diversity. Indeed, my students are diverse in these areas; NYU welcomes students from 130 countries to the United States and sends more undergraduates to study abroad than any other American university. Whereas diversity of country is appealing, as it is in our travel segments, I find the diversity of talent as compelling.

In hospitality management, diversity of talent is essential to daily operations. Some folks excel in communication skills and others in analytic skills. Some present to guests or employees exceptionally well and others are more comfortable back-of-house and find the pressure of guest interaction more akin to stage fright. As some brands are now designing the guest experience without a front desk, diversity of physical abilities should be more readily apparent, both in hiring practices and guest segments.

Recently HOTELS Editor In Chief Jeff Weinstein’s blog post on some of our leading hotel companies’ stand on a recent Arizona state law illustrated what our industry knows — diversity is good business, from employing a range of skills and perspectives to serving guests from disparate cultures and communities. We cannot expect laws and regulations alone to advance or impede sound business practice.

The next generation of hotel guests and hotel employees, my students today, expect diversity. When they join the workforce, these same young leaders are often shocked at the actual lack of it in their management teams. How can we live up to their expectations? By expanding our notion of diversity and celebrating, championing and communicating the hotel industry’s commitment to the same. Are hoteliers meeting the challenge? Where and how can we better achieve the goal?