Carina Chorengel, Hyatt

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, Hyatt Senior Vice President – Commercial, Asia Pacific, Carina Chorengel, reveals how her own experiences of discrimation have shaped her outlook on inclusivity.

What does inclusivity mean to you?

Inclusivity is something I feel deeply passionate about, which goes back to my childhood. Growing up in a number of different cities around the world and having both European and Asian parents, I can remember experiencing discrimination on several occasions as a child, which made me feel excluded. On one occasion when I was about nine years old, I was trying to find a seat on the school bus; a younger boy told me I couldn’t sit with him and his friends, calling me a derogatory word relating to my Asian ethnicity. That incident has stuck with me my whole life. It is a reminder for me of how it feels to be discriminated against and how incredibly important it is to create an environment where inclusivity is firmly embedded, so that people feel that they can belong, no matter their background or circumstance.

Is the hotel industry inclusive to both guests and employees?

Like all industries, there is still room for improvement within the hotel sector. However, we have certainly made significant progress in this area, especially in recent years, which is fantastic to see. I am proud that Hyatt has been a leader in this area in many ways, which includes establishing a number of global and regional employee-led networks to care for and support guests and employees of all backgrounds – from Women, LGBTQIA+, people that are in need or those who may be mentally or physically challenged.

One that is especially close to my heart is Women@Hyatt, our global community established to cultivate and nurture our female talent. The aim of Women@Hyatt is to ensure we continue to create environments where women have the confidence to lead and thrive. And globally, this is brought to life in a relevant way depending on the country, culture and language. What is relevant in China may not be relevant in Australia or Malaysia or India or Japan. I feel privileged to have launched this here in Asia Pacific and now, as Executive Sponsor and Chair for the region, I am proud be “big sister” and mentor to our seven thriving Women@Hyatt Chapters across Asia Pacific, led by our dedicated and talented female leaders. 

Could you share your first-hand experiences of inclusivity while travelling, staying in hotels or working at Hyatt?

Our core purpose at Hyatt is to care for others so they can be their best. I have been able to experience this first-hand while working within the company as well as staying at our hotels. While there are too many examples to share from my 35 years with Hyatt, I must say I do value and appreciate the small, thoughtful gestures that our hotel teams extend to guests, such as sending female members of staff to attend to the needs of a female guest, especially at night.

Of course, our care doesn’t just extend to women. As mentioned, our teams focus on providing care and support to those with special needs, ethnic minorities, underprivileged youth, our LGBTQIA+ community and the elderly, so that everyone can feel a sense of belonging and inclusion as a guest, and feel inspired with opportunities as an employee.

How can the hotel industry do better to be more inclusive to guests and employees/colleagues?

I truly believe change has to come from the top – and with large organizations, I feel this is even more critical. While we have established our regional goals, inclusion is a core focus within our global strategy as well. Our global CEO, Mark Hoplamazian, is the Chair for our Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which I am also honored to be a founding member of. This sends a clear message that as an organization we continue to strive to be a place where everyone feels included and empowered, regardless of their background.

On a personal note, I aim to ensure that I practice what I preach and stay true to my personal values as much I can, every day – by acting with kindness, communicating with empathy, and listening with the aim of understanding, not just responding. By putting these into action I do my best to be a role model to my team, as well as our wider business, to help live our values and encourage everyone to bring these values to life in their own, unique and meaningful ways, too.