DEI initiatives are critical for today’s modern hospitality brands. Accor is using its own company-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion commitment to push the industry — and the world — forward.
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Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) empowers every core initiative for today’s hospitality companies, from building trusting and respectful relationships with guests to attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent. Accor has taken a proactive approach to DEI for years, priding itself on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace for its more than 230,000 employees across 110 countries.
“Hospitality drives strong human values, and at Accor, taking care of people is at the heart of what we do,” said Anne-Sophie Beraud, Accor’s senior vice president, diversity & inclusion and social care. “It is crucial to create a safe and inclusive workplace where each employee can grow and advance. This is why we have structured our approach around four priorities: gender diversity, people with disabilities, social, ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity, and the LGBTQI+ community. We believe these four pillars reflect all aspects of diversity in our industry and the world.”
As a hospitality company, hundreds of thousands of individuals representing an infinite combination of backgrounds and identities pass through Accor spaces every day. Focusing on talent development and social responsibility by valuing every person’s unique qualities and differences drives Accor’s approach to DEI. That mission extends beyond the company itself to the hospitality industry at large and the far flung locales it touches. “We’ve always integrated the diversity and inclusion approach in everything we do, and we still aim to go further,” Beraud said. “We want to be changemakers by fundamentally transforming the communities we operate in.”
Promoting Gender Equality
Corporate DEI programs often focus on what takes place on company property, but truly promoting gender equality requires a zoomed out view of how people live.
“We recognize the exacerbation of gender-based violence caused by global crises, and more than ever, we have a duty to protect and care for others,” said Beraud. “This means fighting against all forms of sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace and domestic violence.” Focusing on these three priorities helps keep Accor oriented toward ensuring that women, who make up 43 percent of the company — and men in small proportion — feel safe and protected.
Internally, Accor leverages RiiSE, a company-wide gender diversity network, to foster empowerment and eliminate discrimination. “This means reinforcing our efforts to achieve parity in pay, pushing further for increased female representation at the executive level, and developing our gender diversity network to support our strategy and end gender-based violence,” Beraud said.
In that sense, RiiSE extends Accor’s gender equality commitment beyond company walls, acknowledging that sexism anywhere affects people everywhere. Accor is a co-leader of the #StOpE initiative to fight sexism at work in France and a member of the HeForShe movement from 2015 to 2020, which promotes pay equity and equality in the workplace. In 2021, Accor became a co-leader of the Generation Equality Action Coalition, partnering with UN Women to accelerate gender equality and end domestic violence.
Finances play an important role in realizing these goals — that’s why Accor has committed to donating €1 million per year to French organization La Maison des Femmes in an effort to support and protect vulnerable women. At the same time, DEI initiatives must be action-oriented in order to have maximum impact at corporate and local levels. “Representation matters, so we set ambitious targets to achieve a 40 percent representation of women in leadership positions at the executive committee level and 45 percent at the senior leadership level by 2025,” said Beraud.
Advancing Social, Ethnic, Racial, and Cultural Diversity
Accor believes that the hospitality sector can serve as a social elevator, propelling every individual to realize their greatest potential. For social elevation to take place, though, companies must commit to advancing diversity within their ranks. Mentorship, sponsorship, and partnership programs help Accor engage with local communities and inspire individuals to become the best versions of themselves.
Through PAQTE, which coordinates internships for young people from underprivileged areas in France, employment programs dedicated to indigenous people in the Pacific , and BIPOC-focused initiatives in North America, for example, Accor’s recruitment strategy works both to foster a more diverse workforce and to meet the specific challenges faced by each geographic region where the company operates.
Accor’s collaboration with non-profit organization Tent Partnership for Refugees also demonstrates the company’s commitment to social, ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity. As global crises continue to uproot entire communities, the number of refugees in the world is expected to continue trending upward. Tapping into that talent pool is a boon for businesses seeking to increase diversity and enrich corporate culture, but it also positions companies to have a hand in providing meaningful employment for displaced people the world over.
Integrating People With Disabilities
Since Accor signed and adopted the 10 principles of the International Labour Organization’s Global Business and Disability Charter in 2015, the company has been a pioneering force in accessibility in hospitality. “We have committed to integrating people with disabilities through boosting awareness and sensitivity, reinforcing the inclusion of guests with disabilities, and by developing the employment of disabled people,” Beraud said.
To truly prioritize skills and qualifications, companies need to be able to welcome candidates at all levels of ability. Accor’s Smart Room concept offers tailor-made features to ensure guests with disabilities feel welcome. Executive Committee members are dedicated to mobilizing around the importance of disability allyship. Accor also works with organizations like Café Joyeux, a company that trains restaurant staff with neurodiverse backgrounds, to bring more people with disabilities on board.
Public partnerships also play a role in creating more effective representation for people with disabilities in hospitality. “To demonstrate our vision of Augmented Hospitality including people with disabilities across all hotel brands and experiences, we are proud to be an official partner of the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Beraud. And in 2021, Accor joined the Valuable 500, a global initiative that aims to make the inclusion of people with disabilities explicit in the recruitment roadmaps of 500 multinational companies
Supporting LGBTQI+ Inclusion
“We aim to be a reference in the hospitality sector when it comes to welcoming LGBTQI+ employees and guests,” Beraud said. In 2021, Accor became a Platinum Partner with the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) in order to foster an overall industry that is safe and inclusive for all communities. “This work involves raising awareness, communicating, and developing actions in hotels for LGBTQI+ travelers to make them feel recognized, valued, and welcome.”
With DEI champions, committees, and think tanks stationed around the world, Accor has baked its commitment into the very company infrastructure. And in each of the company’s eight regional hubs, employees are empowered to adapt the four pillars to meet local priorities and needs. “We noticed this in our Latin American hub for instance, where LGBTQI+ rights and community is particularly important and is a major goal for employees.”
“The hospitality industry is by definition rich, diverse, and multicultural,” said Beraud. It’s in Accor’s DNA to welcome and take care of all our employees, guests, and partners. Diversity and inclusion are not an option, but a reality that needs to be addressed every day. This is about how you care and work daily to end all forms of discrimination, misconduct, or racism.”
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