FIU launches course to elevate C-suite diversity

As part of a new initiative to create a pathway for talented Black and Hispanic hospitality management students to seek positions in executive leadership or professorships in hospitality management programs, Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management is launching its first-ever diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) academic course.

Senior Seminar Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, a for-credit course offered this spring, examines the challenges and paths to success for Black and Hispanics in the hospitality industry. Issues that are key to the advancement and development of Blacks and Hispanics are addressed by guest speakers and include topics such as leadership, stereotypes, biases, microaggressions and accessibility.

“The world’s leading hospitality companies and programs must do better to racially diversify leadership in the C-Suite, where Black men and women represent just 0.1% of all industry CEOs and presidents,” said Brian Barker, FIU Hospitality DEI-endowed professor. “It’s imperative that hospitality programs start the process and work together with major hospitality companies to level the playing field and ensure pathways to success.”

This course is part of an ongoing commitment to address gaps in underrepresentation and inequity across the hospitality industry. One in five people working in the hospitality industry, specifically the hotel business, are Black, yet just 1.6% of hospitality industry executives are Black, according to a review of more than 800 hospitality companies by the Castell Project.

Last month, FIU’s top 10 U.S. public hospitality program and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits announced a groundbreaking alliance focused on DEI. The alliance’s focus includes a broad range of opportunities in addition to educational programming, such as academic research, recruiting, mentoring, career pathing, scholarships, employee training/micro-credentialing and other partnerships.

“FIU has the most diverse hospitality school in the United States, with 74 countries represented in its student body and graduating more Black and Hispanic undergraduate students than any other school,” said Michael Cheng, dean, Chaplin School. “This course is the start to a more inclusive future in the hospitality industry for our students and the industry as a whole.”