David Kong, industry veterans launch DEI Advisors

Industry veterans David Kong, Rachel Humphrey and Lan Elliott are the principals of newly launched DEI Advisors, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women and other minority groups to achieve their career aspirations.

The hospitality industry provides tremendous career opportunities and clear paths for advancement, but even with all the progress we’ve seen, women and minority groups continue to face a broken rung at the upper levels of management and leadership. Our industry is diverse; however, when you envision the organizational hierarchy as a triangle, this diversity is mainly at the bottom layers of the triangle.

Not only is it not right, it also stifles innovation and is simply not good for business, said Kong. To continue to advance the industry, we need more diversity, equity and inclusion (“DEI”) at all upper-executive levels of the hospitality industry.

“I formed DEI Advisors as a non-profit organization to collect and share insights and learnings from industry leaders,” said Kong, principal/founder. “While many companies are doing wonderful work in the areas of DEI, individuals must also be responsible—and feel empowered—for their own personal growth and career aspirations. Essentially, we’re aiming to prepare future leaders in the industry for the driver’s seat of their own journey, where they get to truly help create and advocate for their own destiny.”

Through interviews with industry leaders, DEI Advisors hopes to share inspiration and guidance to help individuals navigate their careers by learning, among others, to:

  • Overcome conscious and unconscious bias
  • Feel comfortable in seeking advancements
  • Triumph over structural barriers
  • Establish networks, advocates, and mentors
  • Find strength and resilience in the face of adversity
  • Better integrate their work life and personal life

The interviews and insights will be distributed through social media channels including YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn and can also be accessed through the organization’s website, DEIAdvisors.org. There will be fresh content weekly. There are also plans to repurpose the content and insights into a podcast and other resource materials in the future.

Some of the interviews immediately available for viewing at launch include Geoff Ballotti (Wyndham Hotels & Resorts), Heather McCrory (Accor), Jagruti Panwala (Wealth Protection Strategies; 2019-2020 AAHOA chairwoman), Mary Beth Cutshall (Amara Capital), Melissa Maher (industry executive), Peggy Berg (Castell Project), Sylvia Douglin (well-known trainer) and Renie Cavallari (Amazon bestselling author of “Head Trash”).

“I’ve always been a champion for diversity, inclusion and equity in the industry,” Kong said. “I’m now thrilled to take my passion and turn it into something that I truly hope will impact lives, change career trajectories and make a difference.”