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Ensuring success with diversity in hospitality organizations

Organizational diversity leads to more innovation, better employee productivity, and more profits at the bottom line. Ample research backs the benefit of having diverse individuals in the organization leading to a sustained competitive advantage over the years. Research also highlights how women make better leaders than men and how organizations with more women leaders do better than otherwise.

But is it really that simple? Does having diversity in an organization automatically lead to the hyped benefits? Do women leaders directly result in the romantic picture of the profitable organization?

While most of us would have loved a simple yes, the answer is the contrary.

In simpler words, diversity in organizations or women in leadership, for that matter, does not have a linear relationship with the benefits we strive for.

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The next set of queries then becomes – what do we do then? How do we leverage the benefits of diversity? How can we have more women in leadership and succeed simultaneously?

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The answer to these questions combining diversity and the organization’s success lies in the research, which underscores the benefits of diversity training, networking, visible contribution and mindful investment.

1. Diversity training

Diversity training is a strategy designed to raise awareness, reduce stereotypes and prejudices, and amplify inclusive behaviour in the workplace. Through each session, one of the three training goals is centred, which helps people acknowledge the difference, resulting in more inclusion in the workplace. Research has shown that diversity training can be an impactful tool that can assist organizations in leveraging diversity by increasing belonging in the workplace. Traditionally, hospitality organizations have focused more on the hard skills gained by their employees – skills related to hot kitchens, managing the desks and being at the frontline. Seldom has the attention of training been on managing the challenges related to diversity or leveraging diversity in the workplace. Long-term investment in training can not only assist employees in being better at leveraging diversity, but it can also assist employees find more meaning in their work – thereby increasing their intentions to stay at the current workplace.

2. Networking

The notion of networking has been extremely limited to golf clubs and after-office beer bars, with the benefits of it limited to the participating audiences as well. Research in hospitality shows that minorities at the workplace often feel secluded from traditional networking due to a lack of flexibility and a monolith format of quick networking. Most networking sessions also do not register the fact that people might not be available to stay after the office, which is largely a limiting factor for women.

Research also shows that women and men have different networking styles, and the existing ones are more suitable for the latter than the former. Women tend to take longer in networking and are more focused on building relationships based on trust than men, who are faster and more focused on achieving their goals. Recognizing this difference, Priya Thakur, founder and Managing Director of Larisa Hotels and Resorts, held multiple meetings with significant travel aggregators and agencies nationwide to cement long-lasting relationships. Deepika Arora, the founder of Rosakue Hospitality and an advisor to Dusit International Hotels, mentioned that she leverages existing relationships to broaden her horizons.

Apart from leveraging the existing relationships, for an organization to flourish in its diversity and make the workplace more inclusive for women, it is important to have networking sessions during working hours and at periodic intervals. These networking sessions can make women feel more included in the organization while assisting them in becoming better leaders.

3. Visible contribution

Research shows that women are more likely to spend their time doing office-housework than men, and this statistic worsens based on age and ethnic diversity. Here, office housework refers to repetitive work that adds little to no value to the main job and is mostly invisible. Experts discuss that women are more indulgent in these works because of the larger cultural conditioning of female caregiving, where the lady in the family takes care of everything to keep things running smoothly. At the workplace, this caregiving takes the forms of note-taking in meetings for others, acting as a replacement without official instructions, and bringing coffee around.

While most of these actions are done in good faith and with better intentions, women need to be more intentional with what they invest their time in. Jobs that add value are more visible to the management, and those assisting the organization in growth are more likely to receive promotion and growth opportunities. If you have to act as a replacement for someone, ensure that there is written acknowledgement for the same or that your line manager knows your contribution. Another suggestion from the experts in the area is to keep a record of your contributions through the years because women leaders are more likely to skip sharing their achievements for visibility than men, hampering their future growth.

4. Mindful investment

When women leaders were asked to name one thing they would do differently if starting all over again, most of them mentioned that they would be more mindful in investing their time and resources in other women. Women make up less than 3% of leaders in tourism and hospitality, in spite of taking up the majority of space in the industry overall. Therefore, women leaders in hospitality are responsible for investing in developing more leaders for the industry. Research has backed that mentorship and sponsorship at the workplace play a critical role in developing leadership qualities within women. Therefore, mindful investment in the future of women leaders can decide whether the organization’s human becomes human capital.

Eventually, leveraging diversity within an organization is a conscious, continuous, and collective process that requires pro-activeness for both employees and organizations. For more information on this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Prachi Thakur, a diversity strategist who is creating spaces for women at hospitality workplaces.

About the author

Prachi Thakur 1 copyPrachi Thakur is an expert diversity strategist who has taken TEDx stage twice to highlight strategies to leverage workplace diversity. She also assists organizations on their inclusion journey via customized training and evaluation sessions.

Tags: diversity, Featured, networking, Tips & Trends

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