Diversity in Hospitality: How Gen-Y Is Transforming The Industry

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We all know that globalization has benefitted hospitality and tourism as an industry, but did you know that it also positively affects you as a new grad?

Most companies are looking for diversity and a range of work experience in all new hires in order to better serve today’s international guests. Furthermore, employers are increasingly focused on creating equitable workplace environments, meaning that professionals from a range of cultural and educational backgrounds can work together to form welcoming, diverse teams.

In this article, you can learn how to highlight the unique skills and perspective that you bring to a potential job and hear from a recent graduate on her experience with diversity in hospitality.

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Diversity Today

Diversity no longer exclusively refers to your cultural or religious background. Today, diversity encompasses the unique perspective that you bring to the company, be it through previous work experience or your unique way of analyzing and solving problems. As industries begin to think of “diversity” in more complex ways, your cultural perspective, education, and personal experiences can distinguish you in a job interview.

Diversity today may refer to aspects of your background in one (or more!) of the following ways:

  • Religion, culture or socio-economic status
  • Work experience, career paths and patterns of thought
  • Gender identity, physical abilities or sexual orientation
  • Age, education and life experience

These are just a few of the aspects of your identity that make you who you are and can also help you be a part of an inclusive, welcoming hospitality community. Employers aren’t just hiring you for your skills, but for who you are as a person and the unique point of view you can bring to their work environment.

Benefits

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There are countless benefits to creating a diverse workplace. For example, diversity in the workplace increases productivity, communication and innovation. Moreover, an awareness of diversity allows the company to design and provide services to guests that are inclusive and reflective of their unique wants and needs.

Recent graduate Nik-Keisha Moodie, Food & Beverage Management Trainee of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc., explains: “The hospitality industry takes pride in creating experiences for each individual guest. Employers want employees who can connect with guests from different backgrounds with different beliefs and expectations.”

Working for a company that promotes diversity might give more opportunities to new graduates to help design employee inclusion programs and diversity training methods.

Nik-Keisha has found that her career has thrived in the hospitality industry, and she is passionate about creating equitable workplaces. She says that she aspires: “…To become a voice within my company one day… to advocate and support others with backgrounds like mine.”

Diversity and You

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Highlighting the diversity you bring to a potential employer on your resume can increase your likelihood of getting that crucial first interview. Details like your outlook on life, formative experiences, or problem-solving methods might have seemed out of place on a traditional resume, but today these details can actually demonstrate your diversity. Hospitality and tourism companies want to hear how you will bring fresh perspectives to their current offerings.

New grads might incorporate aspects that highlight their diversity into their cover letter by beginning a section with: “As a ______, I am adaptive to issues of diversity in the hospitality industry.” Likewise, you could back up a statement with: “….because of my background in ______.” You can elaborate: Was there ever a professional situation where you made the workplace more inclusive for someone? Or was there a time when you yourself did not feel as welcome, and what would you do to address those issues in this role?

According to Brittany Reynolds, Manager of Talent Development at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc., the best candidates are those who are able to explain the potential crossover skills they bring to the job.

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“You want to showcase yourself in the way that you want to be perceived,” says Brittany.

She cautions that while a hint of personal experience can set your application apart, you should avoid superfluous or emotive language – do your research, and be specific as to how you bring diversity to the job. Focus on addressing the issue directly and providing a creative, effective solution to it.

As travel and tourism becomes more affordable and more globalized, the benefits of diversity in hospitality will only increase. An employee who can handle a range of challenges and be flexible in the face of change will always be valuable, and that’s what diversity is all about.

To highlight your own diverse perspective on a resume, do your research and highlight the many ways in which you represent the global workforce in your job applications. An understanding of workplace equity and diversity will only increase your likelihood of getting that first interview (and foot in the door!). Moreover, it will help you make a meaningful impact on a worldwide industry.

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