Two things can be true at the same time: I love the hospitality industry; it is filled with some of the kindest, most talented and most brilliant people I have ever known.
Despite this, the work that we do here at Be Inclusive Hospitality is born out of a glaringly apparent need for our sector to re-imagine equity, diversity and inclusion where race is included in all the discussions and initiatives on this topic along with gender and sexuality.
As Be Inclusive Hospitality approaches its fourth-year milestone, it prompts reflection on the progress made and the path that lies ahead.
The thirst for data
There are more industry surveys to better understand inclusivity now than ever before, which I believe signals progress.
The thousands of downloads of our own ‘Inside Hospitality Report’ by CEOs and senior leaders within our industry, academia and beyond, suggests the days of putting our heads in the sand are long behind us.
There is a plethora of rich, insightful data showcasing both the industry’s strengths and the areas in need of transformation.
All of this data is ready to use and a solid basis to inform action.
Seeing is believing
Up until last year, I attended a leadership conference where a managing director of a restaurant group proudly claimed hospitality is one of the most diverse industries in the UK, boasting a workforce that spans a spectrum of backgrounds.
This is, of course, a fact. However, the glaring truth is that 95% of attendees at this leadership conference are white and mostly male.
The question to consider is this: what do the optics of our leadership events and conferences say to someone who is not white and male? These spaces send a message that leadership opportunities in hospitality are limited to select groups. Until this changes, the industry will always be viewed by racialised groups as somewhere where only ‘some’ can thrive.
I am repeatedly asked if we are making progress fast enough, and my response often is that we are ‘moving’.
It’s a marathon and not a sprint, and I hope that as an industry we continue to take strides forward to realise the true potential of our industry.
Progress is not...
- Recruitment drives to bring in more ethnic minority employees into junior roles; there have never been barriers to access; there are, however, barriers to progress.
- Releasing a press release for every equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiative delivered, you risk alienating the groups you are trying to attract, as performative PR is rife in this area.
- Asking your racialised employees to share their lived experiences so you can learn is still not OK. You are prioritising you're learning over their trauma.
- Focusing on EDI through a gender and sexuality lens and avoiding race.
- Firstly, educating yourself and then your teams on the disparities, bias, anti-racism and fostering inclusion.
- Collaborate with agents of change who can fill the missing knowledge gaps.
- Scrutinising your internal data to better understand your current position, exploring demographic make-up and company culture.
- If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got – this applies to recruitment, retention and talent attraction.