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February 8, 2022

Diversity in the Hospitality Industry: 5 Brands Leading by Example

two waiters holding trays that are connected by a rainbow

“Help wanted.”  

“Now hiring.”

"Closed, due to no staff."

If you’re in the hospitality industry, you’ve seen the signs. Heck, you might have even hung one in your own window.

Because while recent years have been tough on a lot of businesses — hospitality and food service companies have arguably felt the absolute worst of it.

Take for example, the fact that the unemployment rate for the hospitality industry stayed at an average of 7% in the final quarter of 2021, despite having more than 1 million available job openings. 

The pandemic, sudden changes in safety restrictions, and volatile on-and-off human resource needs have left the hospitality industry in a lurch. Today, many former hospitality workers have joined the millions of employees packing up and heading for greener pastures as part of The Great Resignation.

The situation is a wake-up call. 

And although it’s always mattered, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the hospitality industry is now more critical than ever

Today’s talent market is comprised of people who demand to be treated with respect, recognized for their efforts, and made to feel like they belong. No matter how large or small, hiring managers at hospitality brands must finally prioritize DEI if they want to survive this pivotal moment.

Today, we’ll take a look at five hospitality brands who are doing just that.

Workplace Diversity Recap: What every hospitality business should know

Set aside the hype, pressure, and politics for a minute. If you really think about it, diversity is simply an effort to accommodate the full range of the human experience. 

What’s not to love about that?

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s easy to leave out some aspects of diversity. For example, many companies tend to only think of diversity in terms of gender or race.

But there is so much more to it than that. 

True diversity accounts for a wider range of human backgrounds, values, and experiences, including: 

  • Religion
  • Culture
  • Socio-economic status
  • Gender identity
  • Physical abilities/disability status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Education
  • Work interests/experience
  • And more

But contrary to popular belief (or perhaps, common wishful thinking), diverse candidates don’t just fall into your lap. And in 2022, dismissing a lack of diversity as merely a “pipeline problem” ain’t gonna fly.

To embed DEI, or DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) if you prefer, into your hospitality business, you’re going to need to start with your hiring process.

Which also means, you’ll have to actively recruit diverse candidates. 

Why diversity recruitment is the secret sauce for successful hospitality brands

Diversity recruiting involves using onboarding strategies free from unconscious bias for or against specific individuals or groups of candidates.

The aim is to find the best possible candidate while giving all applicants, irrespective of background, an equal opportunity.

As job seekers and employees focus more on evaluating a company’s culture before signing on the dotted line in your job offer, employers are under increasing pressure to go beyond lip-service statements and make candidates feel genuinely welcome during the recruitment process.

Why is diversity so crucial in the hospitality industry?

Today, 3 out of 4 job seekers and employees say a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating potential employers and job offers.

And not only that, but according to a seminal 2015 report by Mckinsey, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

In short? The more diversity your business has, the more attractive your employer brand and the better your profitability.

Clearly, diversity is a key success ingredient for any company. But why is it extra crucial for hospitality brands? 

Well, it comes down to the nature of the industry.

More than any other sector, hospitality involves global locations, people of various skill sets from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and identities. It’s an industry that quite literally welcomes everyone.

Ensuring that these elements work together to create inclusive hospitality experiences is going to require a genuine willingness to embrace diversity in its entirety.

5 hospitality brands winning with DEI recruitment

Whether you’re the hiring manager at a Fortune 500 hospitality chain or the founder of a growing restaurant franchise, your priority is building the best team possible. 

Unfortunately, finding great people from various backgrounds isn’t always easy — especially if you’ve be using the same recruitment channels for years (or even decades 😬).

If you’re like most companies, a recruitment process revamp is probably on the horizon. 

Here are some hospitality brands doing wonderful things in their diversity recruitment (for both employees and customers) to help get your creative juices flowing. 

#1. The Cheesecake Factory’s quick and focused recruitment strategy

Like many companies, the Cheesecake Factory consistently emphasizes its diversity values on its careers site and in its job postings. But unlike many brands, they also actively promote those inclusive open roles on a variety of platforms — from job boards and social media to career fairs on military bases.

And to double down on the diversity focus, the talent selection team at the Cheesecake Factory is also active in the Women’s Foodservice Forum, an organization focused on advancing women leaders in the food industry.

Another commonly overlooked hiring tactic that the Cheesecake Factory gets right is the length of their hiring process. The company’s interview process is notably quick. Using a combination of phone and in-person interviews, the Cheesecake Factory takes extra care to be respectful of the applicant’s time and availability – key when hiring women in hospitality.

#2. Hilton’s ultra inclusive and efficient hiring process

As you would expect, Hilton mentions its commitment to diversity recruitment on its website

But what’s far cooler than that is that the Hilton is one of those rare employer brand examples that fully embrace video interviewing — even before the pandemic.

This change helps make the hiring process more accessible and inclusive by eliminating the inconveniences of an in-person interview like transportation issues, no-shows, alerting the receptionist, or navigating to the office during peak traffic hours.

But the Hilton went a step further and systematized its recruitment process with an applicant tracking system (ATS), which allows the mega hospitality brand to interview a high volume of candidates simultaneously, without enlisting an army of external recruiters.

The streamlined hiring process also allows the hotel giant’s hiring teams to determine if the candidate would be a good fit or not after reviewing the video footage — it’s a simple process tweak that reduced Hilton’s 45-day time-to-hire to just 5 days.

With next-level efficiency and inclusion in the mix, it’s no wonder Hilton received an award from DiversityInc and was ranked #1 for the best place to work in 2021.

#3. Airbnb’s visual candidate journey

Airbnb has consistently worked to improve its diversity and inclusion strategy, even going as far as to use storyboards in 2015 to visualize every step of the candidate’s journey. 😍

And the global hospitality brand didn’t stop there. In 2021, Airbnb was recognized as a Disability Equality Index® Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion for its work to include and create a sense of belonging for people with disabilities — a group that represents over one billion people.

Through the philosophy of radically empathizing with candidates, the team focuses its hiring process on gracefully passing on candidates who don’t align with the role, setting clear expectations about timing, and celebrating the benefits of diversity at the company. 

As you might expect, this candidate-first philosophy has allowed the hospitality and tourism brand to attract and employ people in an awesomely diverse workforce - and for the long term.

#4. Marriott’s millennial-friendly recruitment marketing

Like Airbnb, Marriott has gone to great lengths to attract millennial employees from different walks of life. The hotel chain has even been known to use gamification to attract a top talent pool. 

Back in 2011, Mariott introduced a game called 'My Marriott Hotel' as part of its recruitment gamification strategy on its Facebook jobs and careers page. Since then, the global hotel franchise has redesigned its job search engine to include pictures of actual employees and give candidates a way to picture themselves working for the brand.

Among other initiatives, Marriott’s efforts to continually innovate while putting a human face on employment opportunities paid off … in 2021, Marriott became the first and only hospitality company to join the DiversityInc Hall of Fame list.

#5. Hyatt’s focus on transparency and accountability in DEI

On a mission to promote and support cultural diversity, Hyatt sponsors organizations like the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, a student-run organization supporting diversity and career development of its student members.

The global hotel brand has also redesigned its applicant process and new hire orientation program to reduce the time it takes for the management teams to hire candidates. 

But in one of their most innovative recruitment plays yet, Hyatt introduced an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) platform called World of Care last year designed to help the company hold itself accountable by embracing transparency.

As part of World of Care, Hyatt disclosed its global gender and US racial and ethnic workforce representation data across all levels of the organization. A great step in the right direction.

Diversity in the hospitality industry can’t wait

In the new era of hospitality, DEI will be the one differentiator that can help position your brand above the competition both with customers and job seekers. But with so many moving parts in the hospitality industry, you’ll need a clear recruitment strategy and a repeatable process that makes inclusive hiring scalable. 

With Breezy, you can create a human-first hiring process that brings in the best from day one. If you’re ready to modernize your recruitment process and position your brand to attract the best candidates the market can offer, Breezy is here to help. Check it out yourself with a free 14-day trial.