Kerry Healy, Accor

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.

Here, Accor Chief Commerical Officer Premium, Midscale, Economy for MEA APAC, Kerry Healy, discusses how the hotel industry can better embrace inclusivity for both guests and teams.

Inclusivity, to me, is about creating environments where every individual, regardless of their background, feels genuinely welcomed, respected, and valued.

Working across the MEA APAC region, which encompasses 40 countries, I am fortunate to be immersed in diversity, with colleagues from varied backgrounds, spanning ages, cultures, ethnicities, abilities, sexual orientations, and religions. It’s clear that differences serve as the foundation of our strength, creating a richer, more innovative and vibrant community.

I firmly believe that travel serves as a powerful tool in dismantling cultural barriers to inspire inclusion. It’s through genuine connections and a deep appreciation for local cultures that biases can be eradicated. Our customers travel from across the world, with this global reach comes an expectation to encounter a rich diversity of talent and experiences in our properties.

The hotel industry has made strides in promoting inclusivity, yet there’s still work to be done. While many hotels and travel companies strive to provide inclusive experiences for their guests, there are still gaps when it comes to ensuring that employees feel equally included and supported.

In my observations across various businesses, both within and outside the industry, I’ve witnessed individuals from diverse backgrounds encountering distinct challenges, ranging from subtle forms of exclusion to more overt barriers hindering their advancement. While strides have certainly been made towards inclusivity, it’s evident that there remains a significant amount of work to be done in cultivating truly inclusive workplaces.

How can the hotel industry better embrace inclusivity for both guests and teams? It begins with a genuine commitment from leadership to prioritise diversity and inclusion as fundamental values. This means investing in training programs, encouraging mentoring programs, fostering open dialogue, and creating opportunities for underrepresented voices to be heard.

It also requires a reexamination of hiring and promotion practices to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to succeed. And when instances of discrimination or bias occur, it’s essential for companies to address them swiftly and decisively, sending a clear message that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

Achieving true inclusivity in the hotel and travel industry will require a collective effort from all of us. By working together to create environments where everyone feels valued and respected, we can build a brighter, more inclusive future for our industry and beyond.