Room for improvement – diversity in the hospitality boardroom

The workforce of the average hospitality company is diverse but much less so at the top echelons of these organizations.

The Castell Project, a non-profit organization working to boost women and  diverse representation in hospitality, has delved into female, Black and  Asian board representation in publicly listed hospitality companies.

The Diversity of Hospitality Industry Public Company Boards 2021 report looks at 31 brands to reveal that the boards of only 11 have some Black representation.

The study also shows that hospitality companies average 23% of women board members, up from 2017’s figure of 15%.

But, that still leaves about a third of hospitality companies with one or no women on the board, according to the report.

When it comes to Black representation, 20 out of the 31 public hospitality companies, had no Black board members.

The study shows that from 2016 to 2019, Black representation increased from 6% to 8% but dropped to 7% in 2020.

“Women are 51% of the U.S. population, while Black people account for 13%. However, more than 40% of the U.S. population identifies as ‘other-than white,’ and the ratio is growing. Although social consciousness may play a role, the compelling case is to align the makeup of corporate boards with the industry’s diverse marketplace and talent pool.”

She says that just by benchmarking where the industry is helps drive progress and that things are heading in the right direction.

“Momentum will grow for corporate boards that better relate to the actual market.”

Late last year the Nasdaq proposed new board diversity requirements for listing, including the disclosure of diversity statistics and two diverse directors on a board of directors.

While the report singles out Marriott International as the most gender diverse organization, with five women out of 14 board members, there is still huge work to be done across all facets of hospitality.

A report in the New York Times this week highlighted one hurdle women are confronting in accepting board positions.

It says that many of the nations largest companies prohibit employees from accepting board roles outside their own companies.

In a recent interview with PhocusWire, Tracy Prigmore, who joined the Castell Project board in December, said she wants to see the breaking down of silos in hospitality, particularly hotel ownership, so that women of all races are working together.

She says that hospitality companies need only look internally to find talent that they are not taking advantage of.

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