Making Diversity Work for You

Building a successful diversity and inclusion strategy not only helps keep hotel companies relevant with the changing global workforce, but it also makes good business sense. Hilton Worldwide is a company that embraces diversity and believes it makes good business sense (See “A Business Case for Diversity“). Here are some tips for making diversity work for you from Michael Ford, Hilton’s VP of global diversity and inclusion:

Establish resource groups
There are five team member resource groups (TMRGs) in Hilton’s largest corporate sites (making a total of at least 20 chapters) sponsored by senior leadership. “The research groups were launched to further diversity and inclusion throughout our company, promote professional growth through networking and development and provide perspective to the company through each group’s vantage point”, says Ford. “Although TMRGs are designed to support and provide insights for specific diverse groups, they are open to all of our team members to benefit from the cultural celebrations they offer.”

Get executives involved
Exhibiting a top-down commitment, the executive diversity council is comprised of Hilton’s most senior leadership and provides oversight and direction toward the company’s overall strategy. “Chris Nassetta, Hilton’s president and CEO, chairs the council. He’s very committed to diversity. It’s his way of life,” says Ford. The council weighs quarterly updates on diversity strategies related to corporate culture, talent, and the marketplace. “Senior leaders are held accountable,” he adds. “Our leaders have a passion for people and service, a fundamental expertise along with a commitment to Hilton’s values.” Women and diverse team members at the senior director level and above who exhibit high performance and potential can take advantage of the mentoring program, whereby they meet with and learn from Hilton executives. The program serves a dual purpose. It strives to accelerate the development of diverse talent throughout the company, while keeping the hierarchy in tune with their knowledge base.

Invest in developing talent
In an effort to increase the number of women at senior levels, Hilton hosts an annual leadership summit of female general managers. Additionally, Hilton is launching a signature leadership development program for women at the VP level. “As a result of our sustained efforts, we’ve seen an increase of women and people of color moving forward and being promoted,” says Ford.


Create scholarship programs
Hilton has partnered with a number of historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, scholarship foundations, and nonprofits to offer scholarships and internship opportunities. “Over $500,000 is provided annually to assist academically talented but economically disadvantaged hospitality students to pursue their college degrees,” says Ford. “This ensures that our pipeline is representative of the global communities where we live and work.” Hilton has invested in partnerships with the International Youth Foundation and has an internship program available to students across the country at their corporate offices and properties. Bright Blue Futures is a new worldwide youth development program spearheaded by the Hilton Hotels and Resorts brand. “There are currently more than 70 million young people without work and with older generations approaching retirement,” Ford adds. “Developing a strategy for the employment of young workers is essential to our talent pipeline.”

Recruit veterans
Hilton’s “Operation Opportunity” seeks to target talented military personnel through HR training plus proper keywording techniques and military operation codes within job postings and military job websites, thus marrying specific skill sets with appropriate positions at Hilton. “Hilton also sponsors veterans, military in transition, and their families with hotels rooms for job interviews. We know the value of a loyalty program, which is why Hilton is focused on matching the training and skills of our military personnel to our challenging and rewarding careers in hospitality,” says Ford.

The Lodging HR and Diversity Summit—being held Oct.29-30 in Washington, D.C.— is a two-day educational event that brings together hotel owners, executives, HR professionals, thought leaders, and academics in a campus-like setting to discuss the importance of diversity within the hospitality industry. For more information and to register visit

Photo credit: Multi ethnic business team via Bigstock

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