Creating a culture of inclusion

HR’s role in diversity and equity

By Bailey Gilliam

In the business world, difference matters. Companies that are diverse, equitable and inclusive are better able to respond to challenges, win top talent and meet the needs of different customer bases. And who does that responsibility often fall to? Human resources.

HR managers play a vital role in ensuring that their companies’ workforce comprises diverse backgrounds. They also have a hand in ensuring that each employee feels respected and appreciated. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI) in its Case for Diversity Report, 88 percent of the surveyed professionals agreed that inclusive teams add more value.

A local example of inclusion at work is Marriott Vacations Worldwide (MVW), which has eight resorts on Hilton Head: Marriott’s Barony Beach Club, Marriott’s Grande Ocean, Marriott’s Harbour Club, Marriott’s Harbour Point, Marriott’s Heritage Club, Marriott’s Monarch at Sea Pines, Marriott’s Sunset Pointe and Marriott’s SurfWatch. What better company to ask than one that is literally in the business of bringing people together? 

Leading the way

Marriott Vacations Worldwide exemplifies diversity, with women comprising 54 percent of its workforce and 52 percent of management-level positions. Additionally, women leaders comprise 30 percent of the executive leadership team and 30 percent of the Board of Directors. People of color comprise 45 percent of MVW’s U.S. management team, and 66 percent of associates are racially diverse (27 percent Hispanic or Latino, 14 percent Asian, 15 percent Black or African American and 10 percent other). 

“Marriott Vacations Worldwide is committed to investing in programming such as executive leadership programs to grow our high-potential talent from within so our leaders can reach the senior leadership level,” according to a media release from  Marriott Vacations Worldwide. “Not only does this approach position us for the future by increasing diverse representation within our leadership pipelines, but it also better reflects our associate population.” One example is its Venture to Leadership Program, which develops future directors of operations and general managers through mentoring, coaching and more. 

Another program established in 2021, the Executive Inclusion Council (EIC), brings together senior leaders to champion inclusion and diversity initiatives throughout the organization. 

“The EIC consists of a broad array of senior leaders from across the business and provides guidance on the company’s inclusion and diversity strategy and supports leaders’ ability to discuss and drive meaningful outcomes,” the release said. “The EIC is also responsible for setting strategic inclusion and diversity priorities rooted in the company’s core values.” 

The company continues to invest in training programs to support leaders who create inclusive work environments. MVW’s diversity, equity and inclusion commitment statement comes to life by educating leaders on critical concepts. 

Additionally, MVW hired its first associate director to lead inclusion and diversity initiatives across the enterprise.

Marriott Vacations Worldwide is a shining example of diversity and inclusion, with a workforce consisting of 54 percent women and 52 percent women in management roles. MVW also prioritizes racial diversity, with 45 percent of their team being people of color.

Here are some ways you can help your own business thrive

Conduct engagement surveys. To better understand the associate experience and engagement, Marriott conducts an annual associate engagement survey globally. Last year 91 percent of associates participated, and 87 percent rated diversity, equity and inclusion as vital to them.

Donate to causes that matter. In 2021 MVW donated $100,000 to support the On Course Foundation’s mission to provide long-term rehabilitation and vocational benefits for injured, wounded and sick service members and veterans through golf instruction, work experience and jobs in the golf industry.

If something is lacking, create a panel to address it. In March 2022 Marriott launched a Women’s History Leadership Panel. The event was a dialogue with leaders about the importance of uplifting and empowering each other to grow and thrive personally and professionally. It also hosted a panel to support Orlando’s MLK celebrations. 

Don’t go at it alone. MVW partners with BetterUp, a leadership development platform that will help provide MVW associates with holistic and science-backed coaching to reinforce inclusive behaviors. 

Train good leaders.Marriott is working to prepare inclusive leadership training that will be rolled out for all leaders across the company. It starts from the top. 

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