Report: African Americans underrepresented in hospitality executive roles

A study by The Castell Project found black executives make up 1.5 percent of total

The Castell Report’s “Black Representation in Hospitality Industry Leadership 2020” found that 84 percent of 630 hotel companies in a study had no black executives.

AFRICAN AMERICANS ARE underrepresented in the executive ranks of the U.S. hotel industry, according to a new report from the Castell Project, a not-for-profit that promotes women in the industry. The Project in the report urges hotel companies to consider addressing this imbalance as they hire back employees after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report, “Black Representation in Hospitality Industry Leadership 2020” is based on a review of employee listings on websites for 630 hotel companies in the U.S. and Canada with a minimum of five hotels and/or 700 rooms. They reviewed information on more than 6,000 people and found the following points:

  • 84 percent of the company websites reviewed do not show any black executives and only 102, or 16 percent, showed a black employee at the director level or above.
  • Black executives represent 1.5 percent of hospitality industry executives at the director level or above on company websites, 12.5 times below their proportionate share of hospitality industry employment.
  • Korn Ferry reports that black people hold 5 percent of executive positions across all industries and four percent of executive positions at S&P 500 companies.

“While black women and men account for one in five hospitality jobs according to the U.S. Department of Labor, our research found there are a mere one in 65 hospitality industry executives at the director level or higher. This is the public face of the industry shown on corporate websites,” said Peggy Berg, Castell Project, Inc. chair. “The hospitality industry has long told the story that anyone can start at an entry level position and reach leadership through sweat and hard work. Unfortunately, the numbers do not show this to be true for black employees.”

Berg said she hopes the statistics in the new report will open more opportunity in the hospitality industry for black men and women.

“Diversity in leadership has not been a high priority for the hospitality industry,” Berg said. “With attention now, however, it can shape the future.  This means being mindful of the post-coronavirus racial makeup of organizations and implementing best practices modeled by leading companies that have successfully diversified leadership across the economy.”

The Castell Project also issues its “Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership” report annually. The latest of those found more women are entering leadership positions in the hotel industry than in previous years.