It’s been a year of turmoil, anxiety and continuous change as we’ve waged a war against COVID-19. Understandably, people are fatigued by this endless battle. The pandemic has wreaked havoc around the world and left devastating carnage — from millions of lives lost, to business closures and lost jobs. As challenging as this is, there’s great opportunity to re-set and re-make our businesses and industries, ultimately making them better. In doing so, stronger structures will need to built, operational efficiencies will surface and creativity will fuel the birth of new concepts and new approaches to age-old issues.
In the process, hopefully, diversity and inclusion will be given greater importance. While the war on COVID-19 raged, another war was being fought on the streets of North America and around the world last year — the war on racism.
Closer to home, Kostuch Media, along with Easton’s Group of Hotels, joined forces last year to present a webcast series called “Eradicating Racism,” bringing together various segments in the industry to assess what needs to be done to break the barriers to equality, diversity and inclusion.
That series, in turn, spurred the creation of a Steering Committee charged with creating a framework for anti-racism in the industry. When completed, it will help the industry on the journey to creating true diversity and inclusion.
Additionally, this month, we’re proud to release the results of a research project undertaken in partnership with students from the fourth-year course called Industry Consultation at the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management at the University of Guelph, examining diversity in the executive ranks of the industry’s Top 100 (see stories starting on page 22). While the research was illuminating on many fronts, it also created discomfort for two of the racialized students conducting it. The two women of colour spoke of finding themselves in an “uncomfortable situation” where they had to look at someone’s pictures and judge them based on their skin colour or their appearance to see if they fit into a box of visible minorities. While eventually they gained confidence in the process as they understood the importance of the research and what it could contribute to our greater understanding, they also felt unease acknowledging “this is how we see people and categorize them in our minds, which is a hard pill to swallow. We have heard the statements which ask people to not see colour, but that’s just not true,” they said. “We see colour. We have to acknowledge and accept that truth. It is part of unlearning that we have to do to work on the issue.” Ultimately through that struggle, they say, “What started as a moral dilemma turned into an important self-realization.”