Opportunity and Diversity One Industry At A Time
By Benjamin Todd Jealous
There is a missing component to the national discussion concerning how to strengthen and rebuild the American economy. It is true that high unemployment, a weak national infrastructure, the need for stronger public education, the concentration of wealth and the deficit are all challenges to the nation’s economy but being left out of the discussion is the continued economic marginalization of racial and ethnic minorities.
The American economy has always been strongest when it’s kept the middle class within reach for most Americans. But with white households holding nearly 20 times the wealth of black or Latino households, and with rising disparities in unemployment, poverty, and income, the future of the middle class has never looked more uncertain. As the country rapidly becomes majority-minority the nation’s economic well-being is increasingly tied to overcoming racial economic inequality.
The economic challenges that people of color face is reflected in the recently released NAACP Opportunity and Diversity Report Card which analyzes the hotel and lodging industry. Mediocre grades among the five leading hotels we examined—Hyatt, Starwood, Wyndham, Marriott and Hilton—reveal the widespread lack of investment in minority suppliers, the over representation of people of color in the lowest paying entry level positions, the under representation in the more highly paid career track positions and finally a lack of commitment to collecting basic diversity data that could be used to strengthen inclusion efforts.
Our report shows that black-owned businesses, which comprise 7% of all businesses in the U.S., make up only 0.9% of all vendors receipts —a troubling red flag that signals how far corporate America has to go in their supplier diversity outreach. And while people of color are 36% of the population, only 13% of the governing bodies in the hotel and lodging industry consist of people of color.
One of the most disconcerting findings of our report card is that all of the top 5 hotel and lodging corporations do not collect diversity data from their franchise properties. This means for four out of five of these leading corporations no data is collected for the majority of their individual hotels. This is unacceptable.
The NAACP is calling for these corporations to collect the diversity data already mandated by the government through EEO1 reports. We are also asking for planners of major events to request EEO1 reports from any individual hotel they are considering for their event so they can make diversity and inclusion part of their assessment as to which hotel is worthy of their business. The National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners has already voiced support for this action and we will be working with our community and civil rights partners as well as local bureaus of tourism to make widespread the use of EEO1 data as an important and widely used factor for determining which hotels qualify to hold major events.
The EEO1 survey is a primary means that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission uses to advance its mission derived from the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act focused on prohibiting racial discrimination in employment and almost 60 years later we still find great racial and ethnic disparities in business and its workforce. The Opportunity and Diversity Report Card and our call to action for greater use of EEO1 data should not be seen as just a “civil rights” matter but should be understood as a means of dealing with one of the greatest threats facing the American economy over the next thirty years, racial economic inequality. We at the NAACP have always seen racial inequality as a grave threat to the country and in the next few decades if serious action isn’t taken to bridge this divide the entire nation will see the economic results of this inequality.
The NAACP Opportunity and Diversity Report Card: The Hotel and Resort Industry
Economic inequality is at its highest levels in recent decades–access to jobs with livable wages and long-term career possibilities is imperative in African American and underserved communities. To meet this need, the NAACP’s reformed its consumer choice guide (which covered five industries and over 50 different corporations) into a report highlighting the fastest growing industries with competitive jobs and wealth building opportunities. The Opportunity and Diversity Report Card– is a demonstration of the NAACP Economic Department’s commitment to ensuring that government and industry are knowledgeable and committed to bridging racial inequality, particularly as it relates to employment, wealth, lending, and business ownership. Over the next 4 years, a total of 7 reports will be released highlighting employment opportunities in the fastest growing sectors in the country–beginning with the hotel and lodging industry.
The NAACP Economics Department evaluated the five largest hotels in the country–Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Marriott International, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, and Wyndham Hotel Group- for their workforce (entry level to general manager) representation of African Americans and other employees of color as well as their supplier diversity and hotel ownership
A standard rate of inclusion was used to measure diversity–; hotels were assigned grades in hiring and job advancement; contracting and procurement; and ownership. None of the hotels received an A-grade. Marriott International received a B grade- the highest grade out of all the hotels evaluated–for above average performance in diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion remains low specifically at the management, property ownership, and supplier diversity levels. Considerable gains must be made to better reflect the demographics of the United States–where communities of color make up one-third of the current population.
The report recommends improving access to programs, opportunities and career paths in the hotel industry for people of color. Several organizations, like the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality and the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, are already advancing some of these initiatives and we look forward to charting the industry progress over the next several years.
Hotel and lodging industry leaders must recognize the current racial divide in their industry and commit themselves to advancing diversity and inclusion in hiring, promotion and supplier practices. As one of the fastest growing industries in the country, the hotel and lodging industry can assist in bridging racial economic inequality. The NAACP looks forward to working collaboratively and lifting opportunities in this industry to meet the growing economic challenges and needs of this country’s every growing and diverse population.
Download the report here:
Benjamin Todd Jealous is the current president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He is the youngest ever national leader of the organization.