I am no politician but I chose the title words carefully, since my objective is to include all forms of prejudice. It is virtually impossible to gauge the financial costs and impacts of the systematic injustice carried out on a daily basis against the black communities, the LGBTQ community, the anti semitism that has never dissipated, Xenphobic politicians and individuals, anti-immigration policies, gender inequality and more. All these are very much alive in many individuals’ beliefs and countries actions.
How much does this cost in lives, in damage done to grieving families and communities, in financial costs to the countries?
All of these divide people and cause bitterness that boils over with rioting and protesting, often ending in looting and violence.
Lately, due to the killing of George Floyd, the spotlight has been on the States, but they are very far from alone in the lack of progress evident on social justice and equality. Close your eyes and point to almost any place on the globe and you will find injustice. The holocaust ended only seventy five years ago and yet it has repeated itself in Rwanda, Darfur and other places. Inequality in all its ugly aspects is still rampant across the world.
But what is the situation in our industry? Are we any better than ‘countries and governments’? Do we run and manage our properties in a balanced and fair manner with regard to our diverse staff?
There are of course strict hotel guidelines and policies regarding allegations of sexual abuse, whether verbal of physical, and I believe that this has come a long way in helping stamp out what was once prevalent but ‘hidden’.
Room attendants and those more exposed to direct contact with guests are now listened to and some have been provided with panic buttons for greater protection.
Employees reported for sexual advances or verbal abuse are treated fairly but strictly. If found ‘guilty’ they will face dismissal and the probability of never finding work in our industry again. Worse allegations can land them in a court of law, and this is only fair and just.
The current situation in the hotel industry is much like that in most countries. It depends largely on the GM (The Prime Minister) and the Heads of Department (The Cabinet Ministers), and their characters, beliefs and policies.
On the bright side I can say that over the course of my almost fifty year career I have witnessed great strides in improvement of inequality, and that brings joy. Sadly, on the other hand there are still bigots, misogynists, racially intolerant and managers who believe themselves to be ‘superior’ to the staff based only on the fact that they are the GM. This allows them to act on many aspects of their character and worse, their inner beliefs.
Until all of us, the managers and heads of department, realize that we are not ‘worth more’ than our staff, things will not change dramatically. On the contrary, although many GM’s do not understand the true reality, their success is wholly dependent on the success of the staff, and all the staff.
The receptionist, the room attendant, the bellboys, the waiters and cooks, to name but a few, all impact the guest satisfaction more than any GM, and in this way are all more important than the GM.
And here’s the newsflash; Guest satisfaction is dependent on staff satisfaction. Happy staff makes for happy guests, we all know that. The question is if we practise it. As someone quoted “To win the marketplace you first have to win the workplace.” Nothing could be truer!
In most big cities and towns in the world, different cultures tend to live in certain defined areas. Many of these have become historical, such as the ‘Old Jewish quarter’, ‘Chinatown’ and others.
But, if at day’s end everyone disperses to their one ‘enclaves’, then where is the truemulticulural society?
In the hotel industry it is to be found on a daily basis during working hours. Hotels are a veritable melting pot of different cultures, nationalities and beliefs. Apart from being the main reason I decided on a career in hotels, I can say without reservation that I have been privileged to work with so many wonderful people from so many backgrounds. I have worked with people of different sexual orientation, different religions, blacks, whites, and everything in between. I have learned, enjoyed and become wiser from every single one.
There can be only one conclusion; we are all equal.
My task as GM? To bring all these people of difference together under one roof of mutual respect, mutual understanding and self confidence in their abilities. Instead of underlining differences and dividing, I promoted learning from each other, learning the wonderful cuisines that each one carries, the incredible cultures, the languages and what makes and promotes a hotel culture of joint ‘Joie de vivre’.
When as a GM one decides to welcome everyone, no matter race, color, orientation or religion,with open arms, life during our working days becomes pure joy and enjoyment.
It is also a hell of a lot easier to love and appreciate rather than hate.
And yet, if this is the truth, then why have so many of us not yet discovered this open secret and continue to manage by discrimination, however quiet?
By resident contributor Stephen W. Ayers