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Industry Briefs
ARE DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION STILL A PRIORITY: MAJOR INDUSTRY ORGANIZATIONS REPORT
BY SOLOMON J. HERBERT

As the travel arena responds to the efforts of some elected officials to strike down and eliminate affirmative action programs, we at Black Meetings & Tourism felt the time was right to examine the industry's commitment to furthering and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.  So we posed a series of questions to leaders of four major industry organizations to get their take on these serious and pressing issues.   Below are the questions, followed by their answers I the own words.

1.     How important do you feel diversity, equity and inclusion are for the travel/meetings/ hospitality industry?

2.     Do you feel this industry is satisfactorily fulfilling its responsibilities regarding diversity, equity and inclusion, and if not, where is it falling short?

3.     Are diversity, equity and inclusion still a priority for your organization?

4.     What are some of the things your organization has done/is doing to promote diversity, equity and inclusion and how successful have these efforts been?

5.     What advice would you give to your colleagues in the industry to help them achieve more diversity, equity and inclusion?


JASON DUNN, CHIEF EXECTIVE OFFICER, NATIONAL COALITION OF BLACK MEETING PROFESSIONALS

*  I have stated this before and still believe it to be true. As an industry we must weigh the importance through a balanced eye. I think there is categorical movement. Many organizations have diversified their content, advertising and marketing. Some have been intentional about expanding their vendor bidding participation and implementing cross departmental spending metrics that are tied to compensation packages. Additionally, the strategic alliances with PCMA, MPI and Destinations International with NCBMP lend itself to the belief that the industry is itself.  

On the other hand, the EIC equity study clearly laid out that racism is still evident within the rank and file of our industry. NCBMP fields calls every day on how our members are fighting harder for resources or having to justify why there is a need for DEI departments to exist. Additionally, there is still a lack of Black and Brown talent in leadership within DMO's and associations and considerable micro-aggressions towards Black and Brown employees.

Further, there are clear differences of investment dollars and ROI expectations when it comes to diversity markets or initiatives in comparison to other segments or industry advances.  So, with a balanced eye, I can confidently say that the industry believes in principle that DEI is important. However, the challenge and hesitation to fully commit is couched in personal insecurities of SHARING power and the difficulty of upending systems that sustain inequalities.

*  Yes! It is the reason our founders took the bold steps 41 years to ago before it became fashionable.

*  1) Co-Lead the creation of the 1st comprehensive study with MMGY Global, Black Travel Alliance and NABHOOD that heighted the economic impact of Black Travelers.

    2) Co-Lead the curation of the EIC Task Force with multiple collaborating organizations that offered a global perspective race on race within the industry. The data points will help create a tool kit guiding organizations on how to create more inclusive events,

    3) Strengthened our Student Education Development Program, which allows us to challenge the misinformation, that there are no qualified or eligible applicants of color.

    4) As an organization, we have continued to exist for 41 years despite the barriers put in front of us. We have educated, empowered, and prepared our members to compete at the highest levels.

    5) Our partnerships with like-minded organizations, such as EIC, PCMA,MPI, DI and ASAE have shown the industry that we can all exist with the common goal of amplifying the importance of our industry to the globe.

*  Treat others as you would want to be treated. It sounds simple, but it's just that easy.


BETTY M. JONES, CTA, PRESIDENT OF TRAVEL PROFESSIONALS OF COLOR (with input from Dr. Mary Jane Flowers-Thomas, TPOC's Travel Writer and Gladys Smith, TPOC's National Board Secretary)

*  Diversity, equity and inclusion are important to the American Society and its travel industry. DEI asserts that ethical humanitarianism seeks to promote human welfare, concern and compassion to all people regardless of race, religion, gender, language, beliefs, or values.

*  Progress has been made. People from diverse backgrounds and cultures understand and are better able to meet the needs of customers from all segments of our society. Much work still needs to be done. When diversity, equity and inclusion are embraced, all stakeholders feel valued and supported.

*  Diversity, equity and inclusion   are and should always remain priorities in societal organizations. DEI, unconscious bias permits those in authority to avoid accountability and withhold support from people who come from marginalized backgrounds.

*  A welcoming workplace environment is essential to promoting DEI. An effort has been made to recruit and retain employees from diverse backgrounds. Assisting, training, coaching, providing firsthand experiences that improve decision making skills, increasing knowledge of the industry are all ongoing organizational tools used to change behavior, change thinking and change actions and relationships. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are all concepts of the "will."

*  There is a war going on against DEI. Some state legislatures have approved bans on DEI in higher education and public offices. Some legislators have introduced anti-DEI bills. Some companies are eliminating their DEI teams. How can we all help our colleagues achieve more Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? We must tell the story of the travel industry from our perspective and make them hear and understand us.


ANDY INGRAHAM, PRESIDENT/CEO OF NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK HOTEL OWNERS, OPERATORS AND DEVELOPERS

*  Diversity and Inclusion is very important for the Travel and Tourism industry if we are going to continue to grow the industry and make all stakeholders feel and contribute to its growth. 

*  The industry is not doing all it can do to help diversity and inclusion until the leaders make a serious commitment and ensure that the mandate is followed. 

*  NABHOOD brought African American hotel ownership to the industry and showed that minority ownership can contribute to more growth and more success for the industry in general. Very soon the consumer or organization will be able to go to www.NABHOOD.net and book  African American owned hotels. They will be able to book 1 room  or 100 rooms and still get all the benefits of booking with the brand including their points.

*  We look at diversity and inclusion as an economic engine that will fuel our industry and provide more benefit to the bottom line because fortune 500 companies are looking to spend part of their diversity spend with African American owned hotels.


PAUL VAN DEVENTER, PRESIDENT & CEO, MPI

*  The global business event and hospitality industries are profoundly diverse in so many ways; from who they serve, the career opportunities offered and the professionals who are employed. So, to effectively and appropriately serve our customers and team members, it's imperative to build diverse teams and create inclusive environments and experiences that ensure everyone can feel genuinely welcome and have a natural sense of belonging.

*  While the meeting and event industry continues to demonstrate commitment and focus to addressing diversity, equity and inclusion and has made some notable strides in recent years, there's certainly room-and need-for improvement. At MPI, we will continue developing educational programming, content and training to support our volunteers and meeting and event professionals in better providing for their communities and stakeholders in creating inclusive and welcoming environments.

*  Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging are absolutely a priority for MPI and for our members. The MPI Academy's #RealTalk sessions have provided much-needed education and discussion around topics such as neurodiversity, inclusion, human trafficking, cultural appropriation and more. Furthermore, MPI's EDI Global Advisory Committee, which is tasked with growing the diversity of our community, had multiple accomplishments in 2023:

The committee put together a framework for an EDI training that will be rolled out to all MPI chapter leaders.

The committee helped develop the Social Impact Award that will be rolled out in 2024 and will recognize an MPI chapter, club or student club for their achievements in promoting and advancing the meeting and event industry in all efforts towards social responsibility, such as equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-human trafficking.

In addition, MPI's Anti-Human Trafficking Committee continues to be at the forefront of bringing awareness of the horrors of human trafficking to our industry, through educational programming and training of our volunteer leaders, as we diligently work to end this atrocity.

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