PHILADELPHIA—Last month, more than 350 leaders from the tourism and hospitality industries, higher education, government, and national corporations gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia for the 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Conference. The event, which centered on the theme, “Where Diversity and Inclusion Intersects with Academic and Corporate Strategies” and took place on March 25-26, included a roundtable of minority hotel association presidents, supported by law firm Jackson Lewis.
Ed McNeill, president of LODGING, moderated the Minority Hotel Association President’s Roundtable, which included panelists Andy Ingraham, founder, president, and CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners Operators and Developers (NABHOOD); Marlinda Henry, president of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners (NCBMP); Hitesh Patel, chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA); Rosanna Maietta, executive vice president of communications and public relations of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA); and Lynette Montoya, president and CEO of the Latino Hotel Association (LHA).
During the roundtable, the leaders discussed their advocacy and education initiatives, as well as how their organizations could work together and serve as resources for one another to promote diversity and inclusion across the industry.
While the leaders agreed that the hospitality and tourism industry is changing, there is still more work to be done to support women and minority hotel owners, operators, and employees and ensure that they have equal opportunities to pursue successful careers in the industry.
“This year’s conference has been an ultimate success, by far, welcoming many guests, far and near, to Philadelphia. Originally created for the hospitality industry, the D&I Conference has grown tremendously to encompass all disciplines and collectively educate all on how to successfully lead and implement best D&I practices,” said Richard Lee Snow, 2019 chair of Diversity & Inclusion Conference and PHLDiversity. “Today, with diversity and inclusion being an important conversation amongst all disciplines, we will continue to strive and foster a space where interdisciplinary partners, corporate leaders, and speakers-alike, can engage and exchange thought leadership ideas for a more diverse and inclusive future. Looking forward to next year’s conference.”
The first day also featured an Academic Think Tank led by Dr. Debra Blair, associate professor at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management (STHM), aimed at exploring best practices for incorporating diversity and inclusion content into academic programs and curricula. One objective was to share program strategies that provided comprehensive quality experiences for students of color, and the impact of diversity and inclusion on faculty recruitment and retention.
“The sport, tourism, and hospitality industries are looking for students who can think in terms of diversity and inclusion, who are looking to incorporate them into everyday business practices,” said Jeremy Jordan, associate dean of STHM. “We know that business leaders are looking for those qualities in graduates, in prospective employees, and the Think Tank is one way we are exploring to give our students the skills to meet the needs of industry. We are examining everything that was discussed during the conference and finding ways to improve our program.”
Proceeds from the conference and dinner will create a D&I-focused scholarship for students at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management.
During the opening night dinner, Capstone Development founder, president, and CEO Norman K. Jenkins received the first-ever LODGING Magazine Diversity & Inclusion Award for his commitment and contributions to diversity and inclusion practices during his career in finance and hospitality. Capstone Development acquires full-service and select-service hotels in the top 25 metropolitan areas in the United States.
This year’s sponsors included: Temple University, Temple University School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), PHL Diversity, LODGING, Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Cheyney University, Destinations International, Global Philadelphia, Jackson Lewis P.C., Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Montgomery Community College, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, Philadelphia Phillies, Thomas Jefferson University, Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, VisitPhiladelphia.com, and WeWork.