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Diversity Programs Make Sense – For the Community and the Bottom Line

Hotel properties across America are implementing diversity programs because doing so is an important social responsibility…and because it’s good for the bottom line.

Diversity initiatives in the hotel industry take on many forms:

Some programs are aimed at providing training and awareness to employees, hiring people of diverse backgrounds at all levels within the organization, or establishing guidlelines for increasing dollars spent with minority suppliers.

Other hotel companies are encouraging and assisting minorities to become hotel owners. There are hotels that are implementing in-room accessibility kits to help guests with dwarfisim and other physical limitations experience a safe stay.

A number of hotels form committees of employees who volunteer to provide education and awareness to other employees on topics of multiculturalism.

Certified for Growth

With African Americans and Hispanic Americans representing over $900 billion in purchasing power, companies that fail to recognize the growth in minority and other emerging segments will be at a significant disadvantage within just a few years. Looking to capitalize on that growth, the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona has joined the Grand Canyon Minority Supplier Development Council (GCMSDC), the regional chapter of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), as a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).

The MBE certification offers the resort an opportunity to meet one-on-one with corporate buyers who are interested in working with certified and qualified MBEs. Other benefits for the resort include access to a larger pool of qualified suppliers and a $1.6 trillion dollar market, greater savings and higher quality goods and services as a result of increased competition. The resort hopes the MBE certification will expand its corporate and government business prospects and offer new avenues for business growth through partnership with other minority-owned and operated businesses.

Diversity By the Sea

For the Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey, part of the Amsterdam Hospitality group, diversity is in its DNA. Asbury Park is a very multi-ethnic community with a large African American and Hispanic population. It is also a very popular destination for the gay and lesbian community. A gay community existed in Asbury Park as far back as the 1940, and it flourished discretely even during the Mcarthy era in the 1950s.

Diversity at the Berkeley comes naturally, and is reflected both in the hotel staff as well as the guests. The hotel’s workforce reflects the community’s diversity and is not restricted to the hourly staff. The hotel’s executive housekeeper is Hispanic, the front office manager is African American, and other department heads are gay.

The groups that visit the Berkeley Hotel also reflect a broad spectrum of life. Kosher groups enjoy observing Passover at the historic hotel as do Baptist church groups and the New York Gay Men’s Choir.

The hotel’s managment strongly believes that it only makes good busienss sense to pursue potential revenue from all markets. And they are aggressively pursuing those markets. The Berkeley recently hired a sales manager to exclusively solicit business from SMERF (social, military, ethnic, religious and fraternal) organizations by attending industry trade shows specific to the SMERF markets and advertising in publications that cater to those organizaitons. It also helps that the hotel’s mid-Atlantic resort location allows the property to offer competitive rates in the low and shoulder seasons that attract SMERF groups.

Diversity from Top to Bottom

The MGM Mirage group of resorts is very serious about working with minority-owned firms. The company has a purchasing division dedicated to supplier diversity and requires minority business participation on all contracts and purchases exceeding $1,000. During 2008, the latest year for which audited numbers are available, MGM Mirage spent more than $414 million in biddable goods and services with businesses owned by minorities, women, and the disadvantaged.

What puts teeth in the MGM Mirage supplier and other diversity programs is that executive management walks the walk. Each of the MGM Mirage resorts has a Property Diversity Council consisting of both executives and employees. Each council is responsible for planning its diversity agenda and addressing the specific needs of its property as they relate to diversity. In addition, the company’s board of directors has a longstanding diversity committee which serves as a powerful force signaling to managers and employees how important diversity is to MGM Mirage.