Over the last two years, the hospitality industry has been subjected to riding the roller coaster of uncertainty and misfortune that is Coronavirus. Although there has been obvious damage done to the industry’s flow of revenue, resulting from coronavirus restrictions and a decrease in consumer spending. The severity of impact on diversity & inclusion (D&I) within the industry is a grey area that is much open to interpretation.
A Look Back At Diversity & Inclusion In 2021
Before the discovery of coronavirus, the hospitality industry had acknowledged the diverse nature of the world’s population and this was reflected in the fervent development of more inclusive and diverse workplaces. To the industry, D&I means encouraging the widest possible perspective to play their full contribution in business, using their unique range of talent, experience, and outlooks, to achieve the best possible outcomes. After all, a diverse target population is reliably represented by a diverse workforce.
However, approximately 660,000 jobs were lost in the industry throughout 2021. A time when the Government’s Coronavirus job retention scheme was paying the wages of individuals who were barred by law from waking up in the morning and going to work.
At the time, the dissatisfaction felt by diverse groups of employees due to reported challenges they were previously facing with mental health, work-life balance, a missing sense of affinity and acceptance with colleagues was emphasised. Hence, with the financial support from the government, many employees felt secure enough to leave the industry in search of greener pastures. More than one in 10 UK hospitality employees left the industry in 2020, and as of April 2021, the number of applications dropped by 82% compared to the year prior. Translating to a staffing crisis within the industry with one in six hospitality jobs vacant as of December 2021.
The Hospitality Industry’s Way Forward
With the advent of the Omicron variant and a crash in consumer confidence associated with the government’s inexplicit countermeasure scheme, It is hard to tell what lies ahead for industry D&I in 2022. Even though things seem to be off on a rocky start, the industry has previously integrated D&I efforts into its framework of success. So, the question remains of if leaders within the hospitality industry will continue to keep it as a priority on their agenda, by developing Coronavirus specific programs and policies that will support employees during this time of fundamental uncertainty.
It has become more evident with time that things will not go back to how they were pre-pandemic and a new normal way of functioning has emerged with change. From a holistic perspective, it is up to the individual sectors within the industry to unite, so that the industry can once again make progress on its journey to more diverse and inclusive workplaces.
“As a sector, we do have the opportunity to turn COVID-19 into a watershed moment—an opportunity to move the dial positively on D&I. With creativity and an informed approach, inevitable restructures could enable new and diverse talent to emerge. Put simply: Businesses that fail to prioritize D&I—especially now—will suffer as they find themselves outrun by their more forward-thinking competitors, whose leadership is fully representative of their consumer base,” said Elliott Goldstein, managing partner, The MBS Group: on D&I in the hotel sector.