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Diversity in the Hospitality Industry

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

A diverse workforce goes hand-in-hand with the diversity of the hospitality industry. In this lesson, you'll learn more about what diversity in the industry entails and some of the benefits that can be realized.

Diversity in the Hospitality Industry

Japan, Brazil, Australia, Germany - these are just four of the top 10 countries where tourists travel from annually to visit the United States. The U.S. Department of Commerce said that, in 2015, tourists to the United States totaled more than 77 million people, spending in excess of $246 billion!

If that's not enough to showcase the importance of diversity in the hospitality industry, what would be? The millions of people employed in the industry? How a large percentage of those jobs are directly supported by international tourism?

Statistics like these shine a bright light on the need for diversity in the hospitality industry - since all tourists are not alike, neither should their experiences be with the people, hotels, restaurants and attractions they come into contact with during their travels.

Diversity goes beyond differences in countries and languages. It also encompasses a wide range of ages, genders, races, cultures, physical abilities, religious preferences, sexual orientations, even life experiences, that travelers will come into contact with at some point in their tourism journeys.

Diversity and Globalization

Since the hospitality industry broadly includes businesses like hotels, restaurants, theme parks and transportation firms like cruise lines and air travel, it's easy to see a variety of ways in which the industry is becoming more diverse. For starters, the world is getting smaller - not literally, of course, but figuratively. Globalization, or the ways businesses and people from different areas and cultures interact, is a dominant force in our world today. It's just as easy to purchase an item made overseas these days, as it is to purchase something around the corner. You can quickly chat with people from all over the world on social media and through video calling capabilities, just like you'd call or respond to your family from down the street. This gives workers increased opportunities to become employed by international companies who are expanding and adding new locations. Another help to building a diverse workplace is the implementation of various laws that promote diversity in the workplace, including the following:

  • Title VII Civil Rights Act
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • ADA Amendments Act
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Equal Pay Act
  • Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
  • Civil Rights Act
  • Rehabilitation Act
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

Among the legislation listed here are rules protecting individuals with differing skin tones, people with disabilities, women, those with a certain medical history, the aged and people with various religious and gender identities. This has expanded the options in employment across many job sectors, not just hospitality.

The benefits of a varied workforce are numerous, ranging from the ability of employees to better communicate with a diverse customer base to research that shows a bump in employee morale, retention rates and even creativity and problem-solving. Let's take a look at a few ways diversity can be a boon for business.

The Benefits of a Varied Workforce

The benefits of a varied workforce are important in many places of employment, but are especially important in an industry that is also highly diverse in its mission and daily dealings. Here are some some ways that a rich background of employees can help a market that is growing in diversity:

1. Growth: As hospitality businesses grow and expand their reach, being able to reach into another culture and develop a brand in a new space is an important part of being successful. That includes hiring individuals native to the location, which will be easier with an already diverse workforce in place.

2. Competitive advantage: Some research has shown that businesses that practice inclusive hiring standards hold an edge over their competitors who do not.

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