Last year I set an industry challenge, and now one year later, I’m pleased with the progress on that challenge.
Last December, I wrote a blog titled “What I want to hear about at industry events in 2018,” and it was about increasing awareness in our industry about the issues surrounding the #MeToo movement that was reaching a boiling point at the time.
I talked about how the hotel industry must address these issues head-on, keep the wellbeing of their employees (especially the most vulnerable ones) front and center and really walk the walk when it comes to promoting equal and fair treatment of everyone in the workplace and company environment.
One year later, I’m pretty happy and I think we as an industry should be. We saw a major safety initiative launched by AHLA and the major hotel brands to prevent and address sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
We saw many high-profile women ascend into leadership positions at major companies: I’ll call out Leslie Hale at RLJ Lodging Trust in particular here for earning a coveted CEO role—a role we need to see more women take.
These are big, public-facing efforts, and they’re great ones.
Maybe more important though are the smaller, cumulative efforts companies are making to raise the diversity of visibility at their properties and in their companies.
Along those lines, here’s a big difference I noticed this year: As I scroll through our coverage from the last 12 months, I see more and more photos that represent the diversity of our industry. Main stages at conferences around the world are showcasing so many more and different faces. With those different faces come different voices and perspectives, and that of course leads to a richer knowledge base from which we can all learn.
As we talk here in the Hotel News Now newsroom after conferences and events, we all agree that this year was a real turning point. Our conference coverage had more eyes on it than ever before, because most conference organizers are making big efforts to include those different faces, voices and perspectives.
I’ve covered this industry for 12 years, and I thought I’d seen every speaker and covered every panel. But this year felt so different. I heard new topics, conversations and viewpoints I’d never heard before, and I’m convinced a big part of it is because conference organizers paid attention to showing diversity on their stages.
I can’t wait to see how this conversation continues. Conference organizers (especially you folks organizing the biggies, like ALIS, NYU and The Lodging Conference, yes, I’m calling you out specifically)—eyes are on you. Our industry notices these things now, and you must deliver.
Huge cheers to Peggy Berg and the Castell Project and their work on this subject. I’m bummed I missed the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s inaugural ForWard: Women Advancing Hospitality conference, but I’m excited to see how that group develops.
It’s an exciting time for continued change.
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