ANALYSIS: Hotels' Dismal Hiring of Blacks

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  • The nation’s corporate hotel industry is woefully failing to hire African American managers and minority-owned companies in a fast-growing, overwhelmingly white trade, according to a new report released by the NAACP.

    The NAACP’s Report Card graded the five largest hotels –Marriott, Wyndam, Hyatt, Starwood and Hilton — for ethnic diversity and racial inclusion. While Marriott International received an overall B grade – the highest rating out of all the hotels– other major hotels that were evaluated scored poorly — either a C-plus or C – and no corporate hotel leader received an A in the NAACP study.

    “The lodging industry has failed to keep pace with our diverse nation,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.   “As one of the fastest growing industries in the country, the lodging industry has opportunities for entry level positions, senior management positions, ownership and supplier diversity – a full spectrum of economic opportunity.”

    According to the NAACP report, Opportunities & Diversity Report Card: Hotel & Lodging Industry, procurement with minority businesses is at “unacceptably low numbers” throughout the hotel industry.

    “Of the corporations graded in the report, only 8% of total dollars spent for goods and services went to companies owned by people of color and a dismal 1% went to African American owned companies,” the report said.

    According to the NAACP, the focus of the Report Card is to examine and grade the largest companies on their representation of African Americans and people of color. In addition to grading corporations on their diversity, the report cards highlight opportunities in the industry and the specific programs designed to strengthen full participation in the industry for people of color.

    The report says that 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 NAACP said.

    The study also shows that 65% –or two out of three – hotel industry employees work in the service sector and it is projected that its five largest occupations – food preparation and serving workers, janitors, waiters and waitresses, restaurant cooks, and housekeeping cleaners – will add more than one million jobs in the next 10 years.

    African Americans comprise the largest percentage of travelers of color in the United States, according to the NAACP report, and while the hotel industry is largely staffed by workers of color, African Americans are not receiving equitable treatment.

    “They overpopulate entry-level and lower-wage positions while being underrepresented in higher-level, more lucrative positions, such as that of general manager,” the NAACP report says.

    “With economic inequality at its highest levels in recent decades, it is important that the hotel and lodging industry provide access to jobs with livable wages, long-term career possibilities and contract opportunities for minority owned businesses particularly in African American and other economically disenfranchised communities,” said Dedrick Muhammad, NAACP Senior Director of Economic Programs.

    The study also 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, according to the NAACP.

    “The report card should serve as both an eye opener and a tool to encourage the graded corporations to strengthen job creation and wealth building opportunities for disenfranchised minorities,” said Leonard James, National NAACP Board Member and Chair of the Economic Development Committee.  “The NAACP looks forward to collaborating with these corporate leaders and diversity advocates over the next several years to advance industry inclusion, at all levels.”

    Photo: (AP)

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