After the events of last year shed light on continued systematic racism, a group of leading hospitality professionals, brought together by Hospitality Design magazine, came together to form the Hospitality Diversity Action Council (HDAC). Comprising hoteliers, designers, landscape architects, and purchasers, the group strives to be a catalyst for addressing the issues of systemic and institutionalized racism which has contributed to the lack of diversity within the hospitality industry.

Through demonstrated leadership, as well as collaboration with the community, HDAC will work toward the creation of a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable industry through the implementation of programs, scholarships, and initiatives that promote and support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) within all facets of the hospitality ecosystem.

Members of the council include: Bashar Wali, This Assembly; Aaron Anderson, The 26 Co; Nina Grondin, Curioso; Angela Clarke, Marriott; Julien Albertini, Aesthetique; Kimberly Jackson, AvroKO; designer Kenya Jones; Ming Thompson, Atelier Cho Thompson; Meridith Zimmerman, RLJ Lodging Trust; Damon Lawrence, Homage Hospitality; Kathianna Rousseau, Rockwell Group; Sequoyah Hunter-Cuyjet, Determined by Design; and Vaki Mawema, Gensler.

“Our country seemed to have an awakening after the tragic events that occurred in the last year,” says Damon Lawrence, founder and CEO of Homage Hospitality. “As we continue to see the need for more work to be done it’s time to have action behind the work we do.”

First-Annual Awards of Excellence

As one of its first initiatives, HDAC announces its inaugural Awards of Excellence Program. Selected by a jury panel of current HDAC members, winners will be honored during the Hospitality Design Awards, September 21st, at Cipriani South Street in New York.

The awards will honor exemplary work in the hospitality industry to individuals and companies across Ownership/Management, Architecture/Design/Landscape, Branding, and Vendor/Product that are working to advance our field through the promotion of diversity, inclusivity, and equity.

Industry members are encouraged to nominate others (or themselves) in recognition of the work they are doing to advance the industry in three categories:

Professional Excellence – A body of work that exhibits a high level of professional achievement. Exhibits a collaborative and participatory approach to working with others.
Promotion of Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equity – Demonstrated intent and ability to promote diversity, inclusivity, and equity through their work and values.
Affecting Change – Exhibits a forward-thinking and progressive approach with a goal to create positive change in the hospitality industry and the wider community.

Entries are due by June 23rd and winners will be announced in August. For submissions, click here.

“People all across the hospitality industry are doing their part to create a more equitable world,” says Ming Thompson, cofounder of Atelier Cho Thompson. “With this award, we hope to elevate and celebrate the individuals doing exemplary work through the promotion of diversity, inclusivity, and equity.”

The Diversity in Hospitality Scholarship

HDAC is also pleased to announce the Diversity in Hospitality scholarship, a partnership between HDAC and NEWH, and underwritten by Emerald, Hospitality Design’s parent company, which works to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion in and access to the hospitality industry by supporting students who identify with under-represented and minority groups interested in careers in the industry. Applications are due by June 1st and will be reviewed by a panel of industry members. A $5,000 scholarship will be awarded to one student at HD Expo + Conference, August 24–25th at the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas. Submissions are being accepted here.

“As industry leaders, we must be committed to creating access, mentoring, and exposing a diverse pipeline of high-potential talent to the expansive opportunities within the hospitality sector,” says Angela Clarke, Marriott’s vice president, select brands, global design procurement. “A diverse and inclusive workforce strengthens our culture and promotes equality. Each one, teach one.”

Looking Ahead

HDAC is working on many other initiatives, including mentorship and school programs, and creating a database of Black-owned and -run hospitality design, architecture, purchasing, and manufacturer companies. The council is also talking to other likeminded groups to form stronger partnerships and results.

HDAC hosted its first webinar on diversity in February, and to keep the conversation going will host an Instagram Live May 7th, and a LinkedIn Live discussion in June, both in conjunction with Hospitality Design magazine. Curioso is also designing a booth at HD Expo, as an extension of the Homage hotel brand, which will feature pop up talks on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout the two-day event. Check back for more information in the coming weeks at or

“Our industry is wonderful. It is fundamentally propelled by humans actively helping one another,” says Nina Grondin, partner and cofounder at Curioso. “But we have a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate across all levels. The Homage booth at HD Expo + Conference is just one way for Curioso to support a brand vision, and a person (Damon Lawrence) that we deeply believe in, and to continue to invite our friends and colleagues to engage in open conversation about equality in hospitality.”

For updates on what the Council is working on, join the HDAC group on LinkedIn.

For more information, please contact Stacy Shoemaker Rauen, SVP, Design Group, Emerald, and Editor in Chief, Hospitality Design magazine, at

The post Introducing the Hospitality Diversity Action Council appeared first on Hospitality Design.



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