How to Create an Inclusive Resort Hiring Process: Strategies for Promoting Equality and Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity and inclusion have been a growing priority for employers across the hospitality industry in recent years. Most large resort corporations today have a DE&I strategy, and many have included diversity in their values and mission statements.
While this is a good step in the right direction, though, there is still more progress to be made. A recent AHLAF report on diversity in hospitality boards indicated that only 22.5% of board members were women in 2021, while 7.6% were Black. These are higher figures than in previous years but still below most companies’ equity goals. The efficacy of DE&I programs has also come into question. Findings from the National Restaurant Association show that, while 92% of organizations have diversity initiatives, only 30% of employees believe these programs have made a positive impact.
The truth is, creating an inclusive work environment isn’t easy, and it starts with how a company hires people into its workplace roles. Here are some steps you can take to implement a resort recruitment strategy that welcomes everyone, regardless of their gender, race, age, or sexual orientation.
Benefits of diversity and inclusion
The hospitality industry is a diverse field in many meanings of the word. Not only does it include a range of business models, from small, independent hotels and B&Bs to international resort chains, but these businesses also serve a wide variety of individuals from around the world. Since resorts are often used by tourists and travelers, this makes them more likely to work with customers from outside their local community, in some cases visitors whose culture, way of life, and primary language are different from those in the resort’s location.
A diverse staff allows resorts to better serve customers of any nationality or ethnicity. Making cultural diversity a priority creates a more comfortable and inclusive experience for both staff and guests. On the employee side, this often translates to higher job satisfaction and an overall more productive workforce. It can be just as impactful for guests when their unique needs are met and their culture is respected, creating a more satisfied and loyal customer base.
One common challenge for resort leadership is the industry’s historically high employee turnover, which accounts for up to 40% of expenses on average across the hospitality sector. A more inclusive and diverse culture can combat this, as well, by creating a welcoming and supportive workplace for all employees.
Challenges to building a diverse team
While diversity has significant benefits, cultivating an inclusive culture isn’t always easy. Stereotypes and unconscious biases can impede the organization’s diversity efforts, particularly when they have been inadvertently built into the company’s systems and policies. A historic lack of diversity can make some candidates hesitant to join an organization, especially if there’s a lack of representation in leadership that indicates it could be a place to grow their careers.
Diversity efforts can’t stop with the hiring process, either. Once you’ve built a diverse team, supporting and maintaining it can present additional challenges. Cultural differences and misunderstandings can lead to conflict within teams, and communication between team members from different backgrounds can be a challenge. While more cultural knowledge and diversity education can help to overcome this, true success requires sustained effort and support from leadership and management, something that can be difficult to accomplish.
5 strategies for inclusive hiring
1. Broaden your talent pools and where you search for applicants.
If you want to bring a new type of candidate into your talent pipeline, the best strategy is often to share your opportunity in new places. After all, you can’t expect the same talent pools that brought you homogenous candidates in the past to suddenly become more diverse.
The question for many companies is where to find these new sources of talent. One option is to connect with organizations that support historically underrepresented hospitality professionals, such as:
- National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH) – A non-profit with over 50 worldwide chapters. Among the resources they provide is their Career Center, where members seeking opportunities can post resumes for employers to review.
- The AHLA Foundation – The charitable arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the AHLA Foundation invested more than $5 million into advancing DE&I initiatives across the industry, and is particularly focused on increasing representation of diverse professionals in resort leadership.
- Tourism Diversity Matters – A collaborative organization focused on developing more effective DE&I initiatives in the hospitality industry, TDM hosts an annual DE&I Conference in addition to providing workforce development and apprenticeship opportunities.
One way to connect with the organizations above (and the diverse talent they represent) is to attend industry events like conferences and job fairs. This can also be a chance to talk with potential candidates who can make an excellent addition to your team.
2. Take a skill-first approach in your job descriptions and hiring process.
Candidates from diverse backgrounds often have a similarly diverse array of previous work experience and education. If you require specific degrees or past job titles for applicants, you can inadvertently limit the diversity of your talent pool by making those who took other paths feel like they aren’t invited to apply.
A skills-first hiring approach is one way to encourage a wider variety of candidates to apply to your jobs. This can also keep you open to applicants switching from a related industry, like retail or customer service, which use similar skill sets to a resort position.
3. Emphasize diversity in your employer branding.
How your company presents itself to potential applicants can make a big difference in which ones apply for your postings. A strong employer brand that emphasizes your workplace diversity can show candidates that you’re truly committed to providing an inclusive work environment.
Some other tips for how to create an inclusive employer brand:
- Clearly articulate your company’s vision and goals related to DE&I so that you can create a consistent, coherent message that resonates with your audience.
- Include testimonials and lived experiences from real-world team members as part of your branding efforts. Hearing about your workplace culture directly from employees can build more trust with candidates than generic mission statements or other promises made by leadership.
- Be transparent about your weaknesses or gaps from a DE&I perspective and what steps you’re taking to correct them. Candidates are often wary when a company’s statements about diversity don’t seem to match the reality in the organization. Acknowledging any disparities shows that you are self-aware and honest about your progress and the work you still have to do, and this will make diverse job seekers more likely to sign on to be part of that solution.
4. Anonymize resumes and applications before reviewing them.
Name bias is one of the most pervasive forms of unconscious bias in hiring and can be very difficult to identify. The good news is that the application portals many companies use today make it very easy to remove a candidate’s identifying information like their name and address from their resume, cover letter, and other materials. This can help make sure hiring teams are focusing on applicants’ qualifications rather than their identity when making hiring decisions.
5. Provide diversity training to interview teams.
The people who conduct interviews serve as gatekeepers to your organization. If their decisions are influenced by unconscious bias, systemic bias or inequality, or a lack of knowledge about proper interview techniques, this can end up sabotaging your diversity efforts.
Who conducts the interviews can make a difference here, as well. Utilizing a diverse interview panel or hiring team brings more perspectives into the process and can help you to identify and root out any biases that are influencing your hiring decisions. This also demonstrates your commitment to diversity to applicants and can help prevent underrepresented groups from dropping out of your talent pipeline.
While a full training for interview teams is going to make the most impact, there are some quick tips you can implement to make your hiring process more inclusive, like:
- Standardizing interview questions – Asking the same interview questions of every candidate allows you to compare them on a level playing field, giving all of them the same fair shot at landing the role.
- Using inclusive language – If the interviewer uses gendered terms or biased language, this can drive some candidates away from your organization. Aim to keep your language neutral and all-encompassing in all interview questions and candidate interactions.
- Offering accommodations – Diversity doesn’t just include race and gender. Someone who is neurodivergent or has a disability can still be an excellent addition to a resort team, but you’ll never get the chance to find out if your interview process won’t work for them.
The bottom line on inclusive hiring
Diversity has become something of a buzzword, but its importance stretches far beyond PR campaigns and trends. Creating a workplace where everyone can succeed allows you to hire and retain the absolute best possible talent and provide a consistently exceptional experience to your guests. Implementing the tips and strategies from this article can be the first step in achieving your organization’s DE&I objectives.
Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 55 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; CBD; Facility and Concession; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Healthcare; Hotel and Resort; Nonprofit; Restaurant and Foodservice; and Travel, Tourism, and Attraction industries.
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