Hotel leaders weigh in on push for racial equality
Hotel leaders weigh in on push for racial equality
11 JUNE 2020 8:22 AM

Hotel executives have spoken out against racial injustice and inequality through social media channels in support of recent protests that started after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis.

Editor’s notes: This article was updated on 11 June 2020 to include comments from Radisson Hotel Group.

This article was updated on 12 June to include comments from Choice's Pat Pacious.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—The nation has been protesting over the last few weeks against the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, and some hotel companies have released statements and posted messages on social media with their thoughts on racial injustice in the country.

Salamander Hotels & Resorts
On 3 June, Salamander Hotels & Resorts posted a statement from Founder and CEO Sheila C. Johnson to its Instagram account.

In a comment on the post, the company said Johnson has been speaking out against inequality for decades.

Read her full statement below.

Marriott International
Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson wrote in his blog on 31 May that George Floyd can be honored with “real change.”

“For many years, I have tried to use my perch at Marriott to advocate for opportunity for all. Regardless of race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, abilities, wealth and educational background or any other point of human difference, each person deserves to be recognized for who we are and respected for both our common humanity and the distinct qualities that make us unique. Each deserves an opportunity to get joy and gratification from their work and to feel a sense of purpose and pride about the footsteps they leave behind in the world.

“George Floyd won’t get that opportunity. But we can honor his memory by leading our own lives in a way that pierces through prejudice to embrace and know people as individuals. The people who work with or for us, the people who serve us, the people we see in our communities, all of them deserve recognition and respect. Too often, we don’t even see each other. Let’s never forget to use our own lives to bring recognition and community and opportunity to life.”

Read Sorenson’s full LinkedIn blog here.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Wyndham President and CEO Geoff Ballotti responded to the protests in a video message on LinkedIn.

In it, he said, “as a company built on the commitment to equality, we all have a role to play in ensuring that our Count on Me culture continually challenges and tears down the prejudices that facilitate such acts of hatred. George Floyd deserved to live a life full of respect, dignity and opportunity. A life we all need to ensure we promote across Wyndham — whose values are grounded in caring, respect, inclusiveness and fundamental human rights. Let’s never underestimate the power of compassion and conversation. Let’s not be afraid to ask the questions we’ve been uncomfortable to ask in the past. It’s OK if you don’t know exactly what to say or how to say it. What matters is that you can feel comfortable knowing that when you are talking to your Wyndham family, they’ll be listening. Let’s be there for each other. And let’s all continue to give our time, attention and action to the causes and organizations we’re passionate about in our communities.”

Watch the full video from Ballotti’s LinkedIn page below.

On 1 June, Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta posted a message on LinkedIn that he shared with his company.

“While racism, bigotry and violence have been societal challenges well before these events, today I feel a greater need to get Hilton back on the playing field to help address them. Our founding purpose is to make the world a better place through our hospitality, and together we have stayed true to that principle, no matter what the world has thrown our way. For more than a century, we have welcomed people of all colors, nationalities and religions with dignity, respect and kindness. Diversity and inclusivity are part of our DNA, and our hotels are an integral part of every community. Our ability to foster human connections across these communities is needed now more than ever.”

Read the full post here.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Hyatt Hotels Corporation President and CEO Mark Hoplamazian shared a post from the Hyatt LinkedIn account, which featured a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Hoplamazian said, “our anguish and anger must lead to meaningful action and real change. We cannot allow our inability to promptly change everything to stop us from changing anything. If we are not changing, then nothing will change—the change starts with each of us through understanding ourselves, practicing empathy, and supporting and caring for others.”

InterContinental Hotels Group
InterContinental Hotels Group President and CEO Keith Barr wrote 1 June in his LinkedIn blog that the protests in the U.S. “were triggered by the alarming death of George Floyd but remembering Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, we know that this issue is much deeper than one incident and another tragic death.”

“At IHG we do a huge amount to celebrate and encourage our own culture of respect, understanding and tolerance towards one another—but there will always be more to do within our own business and in wider society. We all have a role to play, whether through our words, our openness to avoid pre-conceptions or our willingness to do the right thing.

“In the U.S., we have been in touch with the city’s leadership in Atlanta to offer our support and have joined in a statement from the Atlanta Committee for Progress, where we sit together with other prominent businesses in the area, to condemn injustice and abuse of power. But it’s important to recognize this is not a problem reserved for the U.S. alone, or for those who suffer injustice. The world’s spotlight is very much on the U.S. right now, but this is an issue for all of society globally.”

Choice Hotels International
Choice Hotels International posted a message saying “we stand in solidarity” on its Twitter account for Black Out Tuesday on 2 June.

“Choice Hotels stands with all those who have been affected by racial violence and will continue to strive to create a diverse and inclusive culture that welcomes and respects everyone,” the company said in the post.

On the same day, Pat Pacious, president and CEO of Choice, said in his blog on LinkedIn that his company has expanded conversations about racial inequality within its employee resource groups and Diversity Advisory Council.

“I have been deeply saddened by the continuous and senseless acts of violence and racial injustice in our country against black Americans. I mourn the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and deplore all incidents of bigotry and bias. As our nation continues to grapple with the ongoing consequences of racial inequality, the Choice community is committed to our cultural values of ensuring that everyone is welcome, wanted and respected,” he said.

“We are coming together to listen and support one another, reflect on recent tragic events, further educate ourselves on these matters, and discuss ways to move ahead and make a greater difference.”

Prism Hotels & Resorts
Steve Van, president and CEO of Prism Hotels & Resorts, shared a message on his personal Twitter account on behalf of his company on 3 June.

“Racism and injustice are unacceptable, and we at Prism Hotels & Resorts believe in the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion. We also believe progress on these issues is possible if we all use our voices and our actions as agents of change,” he said in the post.

Radisson Hotel Group
On 4 June, Federico González, chair of the Global Steering Committee for Radisson Hotel Group, wrote on LinkedIn that “it’s time to speak out for what we believe in at Radisson Hotel Group.”

“This links to one of our core company values which is that we are Many Minds with One Mindset. Today, this could not be more true. This is a statement we carefully chose when reviewing our company values, showing respect for individual differences, life experiences and diverse world views, and the need for us to work together with the same goal in mind: creating memorable moments for all our guests. To make that happen, we have always and continue to dedicate time and effort to building a diverse team that reflects the communities where we work and live, and the diversity of guests we serve all over the world.”

Jim Alderman, Radisson’s CEO of the Americas, also posted a message on LinkedIn.

“The three most recent events—the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery—crystallize the unacceptable and repetitive cycle of hate we must work to change. We, along with our community, are deeply saddened, as are all communities throughout the world at this continuous and seemingly endless inhumanity. One of our core beliefs at Radisson Hotel Group is that we are many minds with one mindset. As a society, our mindset needs to instill change where we can. We must work within our communities, religious institutions and political bodies to stop hatred and reject violence against all backgrounds, genders and ethnicities.

“Our strength comes from our diversity. We live this value every day, but know it is not enough as we look for ways to help Minneapolis heal in the days ahead. We continually strive to create a place where everyone can feel safe to express their authentic selves, whether at our hotels or in our offices. Hospitality professionals within Radisson Hotel Group and the broader hotel industry have chosen to dedicate our careers to providing safety, comfort and genuine hospitality to all people.”

Editor’s notes: Hotel News Now is a division of STR, a CoStar Group company. Chris Nassetta serves on CoStar Group’s Board of Directors.

Please contact senior reporter Danielle Hess at if you have a statement or social media message you would like to be added to this article.

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