While InterContinental Hotels Group, or IHG, is headquartered in the UK, it is an international business with a global outlook.
It employs more than 350,000 individuals in over 100 countries – they work in various roles across the group’s hotel and resort subsidiaries, including Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and InterContinental.
Ultimately, having a global workforce of this size means IHG’s employees come from diverse backgrounds in terms of nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation and identity, and religion.
IHG is very proud of its diverse workforce, therefore the employer works hard to create an inclusive environment where employees can be their true selves.
The hospitality giant’s vice-president and managing director for UK&I Joanna Kurowska tells UNLEASH: “All colleagues should feel included, valued and respected – not just because it’s the right thing to do – but because people are the best version of themselves in the environments where they belong.
“When that happens, they are empowered to speak up with ideas, diverse opinions and perspectives that move us forward.
“This is important to the guest experiences we create, and to how we inspire colleagues to go above and beyond for IHG…as we work to deliver our ambitious growth plans.”
Inside IHG’s diverse and inclusive workforce
IHG’s D,E&I commitments are central to its ‘True Hospitality for Good’ purpose and explains why being a diverse, equitable and inclusive (D,E&I) workplace is a priority right from the top of IHG.
“Every member of the executive committee has a D,E&I-focused goal. Together with their leadership teams, they review talent quarterly with a specific focus on diversity,” notes Kurowska.
As part of this review, IHG decided to upgrade its 2020 plans and the company is now laser-focused on its 2030 responsible business commitments, titled ‘Journey to Tomorrow’.
While there is an overarching D,E&I policy, IHG knows “we can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes D,E&I” so each market has a localized approach overseen by the global D,E&I board.
The global 2030 commitments include driving gender equality at group leadership levels, as well as doubling other minority representation, plus cultivating a culture of inclusion, particularly for ethnic minorities and disabled employees.
Kurowska shares that IHG is “purposefully recruiting more inclusively, including engaging with people who have lacked opportunities in past”, including those from under-privileged backgrounds, the homeless, ex-convicts and veterans. This includes by partnering with charitable organizations Only A Pavement Away and Hotel School in the UK.
“We’re strengthening our teams by considering a wider pool of talent and providing learning opportunities those who may not previously have had access to the level of education that afforded them entry to our industry,” adds Kurowska.
On the topic of learning and development, Kurowska states that IHG has introduced a new conscious inclusion training program (and rolling it out to all corporate colleagues and general managers in all hotels and resorts).
There is also the IHG RISE talent program “to help us increase female representation in general manager and senior operations roles”, notes Kurowska.
Importantly, IHG’s 2030 D,E&I commitments aren’t just focused on employees, but also IHG suppliers. Through its supplier diversity program, the hotel giant wants to work with minority-owned and small, independent businesses.
How employee listening creates inclusive workplaces
Of course, IHG can claim to be diverse and inclusive as a business, but the proof is in the pudding, aka employees’ feedback.
One way that the hotel giant collects feedback from workers is through its annual engagement survey. The most recent survey results show that 90% of employees in all areas of IHG’s business feel that the organization has an inclusive culture.
The employer introduced an inclusion index into the survey in 2021 that aims to benchmark IHG against competitors and try and figure out if there any particular groups that feel less included into the company culture.
IHG relies on tech vendor Kincentric to carry out its surveys – Kurowska is very proud that IHG has been chosen by Kincentric as the Global Best Employer in 2022.
According to Kurowska, the reason for IHG using Kincentric is that the responses remain anonymous meaning “all respondents can provide honest feedback, knowing that individual responses are never fed back to IHG”.
In addition, Kincentric’s surveys are entirely online, plus the technology includes an online portal where managers and leaders can “log actions plans onto the system, and they can view actions taken by other hotels”.
“We are continually learning to grow and develop our policies from feedback” – and in fact, IHG’s conscious inclusion training program emerged because of employee feedback.
The role of ERGs at IHG
IHG’s employee resource groups (ERGs) also have a major role to play in giving feedback to leadership on D,E&I progress.
These include groups like DAWN, a disability and wellbeing network, a group for those early in their careers called hype, the LGBTQ+ focused group called Out & Open and EMbrace is a UK-based network for allies and employees from ethnic minority backgrounds.
These groups have senior leadership sponsorship, and “demonstrate a true commitment to our colleagues” to build those platforms and listen and learn from their feedback “all with one objective of helping us be a better place to work”.
Kurowska shares some examples of the work the IHG ERGs have been doing. This year, Out & Open partnered with London Pride for the fifth year; IHG also supports Pride in the US and Latin America. Kurowska is proud that IHG has been recognized as a ‘Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality’ by the Human Rights Campaign in the US and Mexico.
IHG through EMbrace sponsored UK Black Pride in its first in-person event since the pandemic; this made IHG the first hospitality sponsor of the event.
Kurowska shares that IHG’s UK partnership with Black Pride “allows us to engage with Pride in a way that acknowledges and tackles the issues faced by LGBTQ+ people of color. It enables us to have a bigger impact on what is a more grassroot organizations…and quickly create real momentum and a step change in how the business interacts with black and LGBTQ+ communities”.
Talking about the ERGs work at IHG, Kurowska concludes: “Acting with purpose in this way allows us to champion the voice of our colleagues through our employee networks and embrace opportunities to bring about positive change so that we can bring to life our purpose of ‘True Hospitality for Good’.”
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