Black Meetings and Tourism

July / August 2021

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B M & T ••• July/August 2021 ••• 33 I ndustries worldwide have been tasked with introducing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives as a means to create a more balanced and welcoming envi- ronment for everyone, but especially marginalized segments of the workforce. Two of those industries are tourism and hospi- tality, long criticized for their monumental lack of Black lead- ership and slow commitment to hiring more diverse managers and executives. Reportedly, of the more than 700 Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) in the U.S., less than 10 have Black CEOs or presidents. According to recent research, across all industries, including cruise/airline and lodging sectors, 4% or less of CEOs are Black. And in the hospitality industry, it's less than 1%. A 2020 Castell Project report on Black Representation in Hospitality Industry Leadership states that 'Diversity in lead- ership has not been a high priority for the hospitality industry.' Black executives represent 1.5 percent of hospitality industry executives at the director level or above on company websites which is 12.5 times below their proportionate share of hospital- ity industry employment. ACCORDING TO THE CASTELL PROJECT REPORT: One in five industry employees is Black but they hold only one to 60 vice president positions and one to 66 EVP/SVP positions shown on websites. Less than one percent of hospitality industry CEO/Presidents (0.9 percent) and chiefs (0.7 percent) are Black executives or one to 108 CEOs / Presidents and 145 chiefs. Most Black CEO/Presidents are men (86 percent), while Black women represent 14 percent of Black CEO / Presidents or 0.1 percent of all industry CEO/Presidents. An MMGY Travel Intelligence report created on behalf of Black travel advocacy organizations, including the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP), the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD), and the Black Travel Alliance (BTA) revealed Black Americans spent an estimated $109.4 billion on leisure travel in 2019, representing roughly 13.1 percent of the U.S. leisure travel market. The spending power hasn't translated into executive- level jobs for Blacks in the tourism/hospitality industry. While some industries have done a good job in putting forth substantial DEI initiatives, others have fallen short reducing those three words to nothing more than a feel- good catchphrase with no meaningful momentum behind them. Seven of the most respected and influential minds in the hospitality/tourism industry recently weighed in on why there is such a lack of Black leadership and whether diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives have done enough to shift the culture. BETTY JONES, the presi- dent of Travel Professio-nals of Color (TPOC), has been in the travel industry for 50 years. In 1989, she and her husband launched CB Jones Travel and Events. She believes jealousy may play a part in Blacks being consis- tently overlooked for promo- tions to executive levels. "There is a trust factor there," she said. "They don't trust us or our judgment. There is some jealousy. They don't want people of color to outshine them. Any position we get, we have to be 10 times better than our counterparts. Even when they know what we're saying is valuable and well worth it. They are not going to promote us. I think they feel 'if we have one BY DARLENE DONLOE

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