Hotel Recruitment: How diverse is diverse enough?

By Jason Ferrara Vice President, Corporate Marketing, CareerBuilder | December 15, 2009

Long dominated by white males, the nation's work force is now nearly 48 percent female, 14 percent black, 11 percent Hispanic and 5 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2008, women and minorities will make up 70 percent of all new entrants to the workforce.

But equal representation in the workplace doesn't necessarily mean equal clout. Hispanics are now the largest U.S. minority group, but they're also the most underrepresented in executive suites. According to an article published last July in the Dallas Morning News, Hispanics hold less than 3 percent of all Fortune 500 board seats.

These statistics highlight the important role that workplace diversity will play as Corporate America evolves to keep pace with a changing U.S. population. To remain competitive, businesses need to embrace diversity as a strategic initiative, tying diversity to corporate profits.

Diversity defined

Workplace diversity is hardly a new notion. The push for diversity gained prominence in the 1970s and 1980s as an influx of women entered the workforce. When EEOC reporting requirements emerged in the 1990s, the concept took on even greater importance.

Today, embracing diversity means far more than creating more and equal opportunities for black and Hispanic workers. Diversity initiatives also benefit Asians, Native Americans, women, people with disabilities, and gay and lesbian workers.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.