New York, N.Y.—After the events of last year shed light on continued systematic racism, a group of leading hospitality professionals, brought together by Hospitality Design magazine, formed the Hospitality Diversity Action Council (HDAC). Comprising hoteliers, designers, landscape architects and purchasers, the group strives to address the issues of systemic and institutionalized racism, which has contributed to the lack of diversity within the hospitality industry, according to HDAC.
“Our country seemed to have an awakening after the tragic events that occurred in the last year,” said Damon Lawrence, founder and chief executive officer of Homage Hospitality. “As we continue to see the need for more work to be done, it’s time to have action behind the work we do.”
Through demonstrated leadership, as well as collaboration with the community, HDAC said it will work toward the creation of a more diverse, inclusive and equitable industry through the implementation of programs, scholarships and initiatives that promote and support Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) within all facets of the hospitality ecosystem.
First Annual Awards of Excellence
As one of its first initiatives, HDAC introduced its inaugural Awards of Excellence program. Selected by a jury panel of current HDAC members, winners will be honored during the Hospitality Design Awards on September 21 at Cipriani South Street in New York.
“People all across the hospitality industry are doing their part to create a more equitable world,” said Ming Thompson, cofounder of Atelier Cho Thompson. “With this award, we hope to elevate and celebrate the individuals doing exemplary work through the promotion of diversity, inclusivity and equity.”
The Awards will honor exemplary work in the hospitality industry to individuals and companies across ownership/management, architecture/design/landscape, branding and vendor/product that are working to advance the field through the promotion of diversity, inclusivity and equity, the group said.
Industry members are encouraged to nominate others (or themselves) in recognition of the work they are doing to advance the industry in three categories:
- Professional excellence: A body of work that exhibits a high level of professional achievement. Exhibits a collaborative and participatory approach to working with others.
- Promotion of diversity, inclusivity and equity: Demonstrated intent and ability to promote diversity, inclusivity and equity through their work and values.
- Affecting change: Exhibits a forward-thinking and progressive approach with a goal to create positive change in the hospitality industry and the wider community.
Entries are due by June 23 and winners will be announced in August.
For submissions, visit here.
The Diversity in Hospitality scholarship
HDAC also introduced the Diversity in Hospitality scholarship, a partnership between HDAC and NEWH, and underwritten by Emerald, Hospitality Design’s parent company. The scholarship encourages diversity, equity and inclusion in the hospitality industry by supporting students who identify with under-represented and minority groups interested in careers in the industry, according to the HDAC. Applications are due by June 1 and will be reviewed by a panel of industry members. A $5,000 scholarship will be awarded to one student at HD Expo + Conference on August 24 and 25 at the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas, the council said.
“As industry leaders, we must be committed to creating access, mentoring and exposing a diverse pipeline of high-potential talent to the expansive opportunities within the hospitality sector,” said Angela Clarke, Marriott’s vice president, select brands, global design procurement. “A diverse and inclusive workforce strengthens our culture and promotes equality. Each one, teach one.”
According to HDAC, the group is working on other initiatives, including mentorship and school programs and creating a database of Black-owned and run hospitality design, architecture, purchasing and manufacturer companies. The council also said it is talking to other likeminded groups to form stronger partnerships and results.
“Our industry is wonderful,” said Nina Grondin, partner and cofounder at Curioso. “It is fundamentally propelled by humans actively helping one another. But we have a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate across all levels. The Homage booth at HD Expo + Conference is just one way for Curioso to support a brand vision and a person (Damon Lawrence) that we deeply believe in, and to continue to invite our friends and colleagues to engage in open conversation about equality in hospitality.”
HDAC hosted its first webinar on diversity in February and will host an Instagram Live on May 7 and a LinkedIn Live discussion in June, both in conjunction with Hospitality Design magazine, according to the council. Curioso is also designing a booth at HD Expo + Conference as an extension of the Homage hotel brand, which will feature pop up talks on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) throughout the two-day event.