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Industry Briefs
DEALING WITH RACISM IN THE MEETINGS/HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
BY SOLOMON J. HERBERT



The death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police officers is a painful tragedy, not only for his family and friends, but also for the wider community, especially African-Americans.  It is symbolic of the degree of systematic racism that infects every level of society, including the meetings/travel/hospitality industry.  While as African-Americans in this industry we may not be paying the ultimate price of being Black with our lives, we are still being denied equal access to employment opportunities, executive and c-suite positions, vendor opportunities, and for BM&T Media, even advertising placements, due to bias in the industry.  So I for one, and most if not all of my Black colleagues in the industry, understand and support the peaceful protests taking place across the nation.  Enough is indeed enough!

 

African-Americans can and do play a very important role in this industry.  They bring a different perspective to the table and are more sensitive to the needs of a diverse audience of meeting professionals.  Race and diversity are crucial in the meetings/travel industry.  If your destination, hotel or convention center wants to attract visitors and conferences from the African-American market segment, you will be far more successful in your efforts if you have people on staff that look like and relate to this sector.

 

White meeting professionals can show their support of diversity and inclusion and help advance Black rights by speaking up in their work environment when they see unfair treatment of African-Americans taking place, or worse yet, see no African-Americans on their team.  And certainly, when there are job openings, they should always make sure that Blacks are included in the prospective candidate pool.

 

There are more than 500 convention and visitor bureaus across the country, but there are currently just 10 African-Americans running CVBs.  That should give you an idea of the kind of disparity that exists in our industry.  To put it bluntly, the hospitality industry has never been very hospitable to African-Americans.  Hopefully, in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy, as more Americans become aware of the devastating impact that racism has had on our community, that will begin to change.

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