COVID-19’s impact on the hospitality industry creates a once-in-many-lifetimes opportunity to integrate a racial equity approach to rebuilding the sector from nearly the ground up. Resources are focused on supporting hotels through the pandemic, but the needs of hospitality workers – and their potential to solve industry challenges – are being largely ignored. The expected contraction of jobs post-COVID will harm the industries’ most vulnerable, who lack the education and confidence to easily transition to new opportunities. This panel will explore creative cross-sector approaches to building the equitable hospitality industry of the future – led by talented, upwardly mobile workers earning living wages and making meaningful contributions to sustain the industry.
For example, 71% of housekeepers in the US in 2019 were people of color. Many are first-generation immigrants, primarily from the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, and China. They are often pigeonholed into the lowest wage jobs with little-to-no job security and few opportunities to advance. But imagine if hospitality truly were a ladder to racial and economic equity. It would provide real opportunities exactly where they are most needed.
In contrast to change efforts focused on increasing diversity, equity and inclusion within a specific business, geography, or domain, like human resources, rebuilding the hospitality industry into a racial equity engine will require systems entrepreneurship. Stanford Social Innovation Review defines systems entrepreneurship as “a person or organization that facilitates a change to an entire ecosystem by addressing and incorporating all the components and actors required to move the needle on a particular social issue.”
Panelists are working with frontline staff and businesses to design and operate hospitality ventures and making investments to build the sector of the future. Their portfolios include a boutique hotel, housekeeping staffing cooperative, upskilling and re-skilling service, and an investment fund.
Jeremy Liu of Creative Development Partners, will be joined by Bo Kemp of the Fluent Group and Clara Lucana, a career housekeeping manager, to discuss innovative systems change approaches to supporting impacted hospitality workers, and creating leadership, ownership, and entrepreneurship opportunities for BIPOC communities.