Joyce Mann, Hilton

Each year, International Women’s Day raises a variety of conversations about gender equity. In 2024, the focus is on inclusivity, with the theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’ looking at ways to combat bias, stereotypes, and discrimination in the quest for a gender equal world.

When Hilton Cluster Commercial Director, Joyce Mann, started her hotel career nearly 20 years ago, offensive remarks from guests about her accent were a common occurrence. The discrimination she faced made her even more determined to create a welcoming, inclusive culture. Read her story below.

To me ‘inclusivity’ means a sense of belonging. People across all identities should feel authentically valued, welcomed, included, and heard.

I started my career in the hotel industry with Hilton, almost two decades ago, in a small town in the UK. At that time, I was the only Asian in the hotel, and I felt welcomed and had equal access to benefits and resources at my workplace.

However, at that time, working in the reservations department and taking bookings via the phone was a daunting experience, as some guests were not pleased that I had an accent. I felt offended when they asked to speak to an English-speaking team member so they could make the reservations process faster.

This unwelcoming experience from customers did not stop me from working hard and proving myself. This first-hand experience has encouraged me to be openminded and have dedication to welcoming all customers.

Thanks to Hilton, even at that time, it made no difference if someone was from another country, culture, background or had a disability. To transform the hotel industry to being truly diverse and inclusive takes time, and I am lucky that I have worked for Hilton who have offered a safe space for me for the last 20 years.

Working in the hotel industry, I witness diversity in both customers and team members: the world now is getting smaller with technology, along with the expansion of hotel locations internationally.

We have observed people from different areas and cultures interacting in our workforce. The hotel industry needs to continue to be innovative and be creative, employing team members from a diverse range of backgrounds; this will help us to further understand the needs of our customers and enhance the guest experience.

This also benefits us in understanding the market better, retaining customer loyalty and maintaining a good brand image. In my opinion, diversity and inclusion is a critical component in the long-term success and important strategic business decisions that drives growth and profitability in the hotel industry.

Search #IWD2024 on HM for more stories in our 2024 International Women’s Day series.