The restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that make up the hospitality industry serve as the site of our first jobs, first dates, and the bedrock of our communities. These establishments are near and dear to our hearts, making it hard to look at just how deeply inequality is ingrained in the hospitality industry. The pandemic's impact on working women and the 2020 civil rights protests across America brought essential conversations about racism and inequity into the mainstream. Broken systems and implicit bias affect hiring, firing, and who moves up the ladder of professional success. Businesses with the best intentions can (and do) fall into these traps, which is why two non-profits, Beloved Community and Made in New Orleans Foundation, are partnering up to present the inaugural class of Equity at Work: Hospitality.
"Ultimately, we believe that People Change Systems and supporting the New Orleans hospitality community in developing Equity Work Plans which will lead to consistently centering their employees with the most marginalized experiences," Rhonda Broussard, Beloved Community's founder and CEO, said in the press release about the new initiative.
Beloved Community's Equity at Work cohort in Memphis has already shown that change is possible. Equity at Work: Hospitality will build upon that existing program with a focus on the "inequities rampant in the hospitality industry."
Twenty New Orleans-based restaurants and hospitality organizations will be accepted into the inaugural class of Equity at Work: Hospitality. Business leaders interested in learning more can register for an info session on March 22, as well as April 5 or 19 from noon to 1 p.m., or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first step in the two-year journey will be to conduct an equity audit for the participating businesses. An equity audit is an online tool created by Beloved Community to examine the areas of governance and leadership, supplier diversity, resources and finance, pedagogies and curriculum, and talent and adult culture. Schools, non-profits, for-profits, and agencies have already used it to aid in assessing their practices. While a general report is made available to all free of cost, Beloved Community offers fee-based services that expand your takeaways.
From there, businesses will learn how to implement changes by taking part in nationally acclaimed workplace training sessions, consultations, and management coaching. Each company's personal equity data will lead to a personalized desired action roadmap, which will take the form of a three-year Equity Work Plan. And along the way, business leaders will be in a supportive community of like-minded owners and executives.
"We are building a movement so the future of New Orleans Hospitality Industry works for everyone, not just some," Made in New Orleans Foundation's Executive Director Lauren Darnell announced in the press release. "I am excited about the unprecedented possibility of what this will create for the industry as a whole. This work has been a long time coming. We are hopeful that with the work of these selected few, we can begin to address the deep-seeded issues of racial inequality in this industry. If you are over wishing the problem away and are open and willing to work towards a future of this industry so that all thrive, I invite you to join us. We are ready—are you?"
For more information, visit minofoundation.org/equity-in-hospitality.