With Diversity in Mind, AccorHotels Wants Men and Women to RiiSE

PARIS—AccorHotels’ signature tagline, “Feel Welcome,” applies not only to its guests, but employees as well. The global hotel brand has launched RiiSE, the new identity of the group’s international network to promote diversity.

“Diversity and inclusion is rooted in the DNA of AccorHotels,” said Heather McCrory, EVP of operations North & Central America with AccorHotels, and the North & Central America RiiSE executive sponsor. “Our fundamental objective is to create awareness and change how we think about diversity and inclusion. There are four components to our diversity and inclusion initiative: gender equality; diversity of cultures; diversity of generations; and Integration of people with disabilities. We are committed to uniting our teams globally and to continuing the conversation in these key areas.”

A previous iteration of the brand team’s desire to promote diversity was Women at AccorHotels Generation (WAAG) and, six years later, a fresh approach to how they promote diversity is coming forth. The “ii” in RiiSE is deliberate, symbolizing the men and women committed to the values of sharing knowledge, of solidarity and of combatting stereotypes. Currently, there are more than 14,000 RiiSE members across five continents.

“As an international hospitality company, we have guests from all over the world and we want our teams to reflect the same diversity,” said McCrory. “We have internal statistics that indicate the best performing hotels in terms of our key metrics—colleagues, guest, brand and financial—embrace our diversity mission. The more diverse our teams are, it increases our ability to connect with our guests and fellow team members. Diverse teams are better performing teams and we have been able to demonstrate that in all of the regions globally.”

Diversity plays a major role in the company, with leadership continuously striving to improve and grow as a company. RiiSE aims to foster an inclusive workplace and touches on both gender, diversity and inclusion in a broader sense.

“We have also established key metrics around diversity and inclusion, with the primary metric being our HeForShe commitment to have 35% women general managers by 2020,” she said. “In North and Central America, we have activated a research project with a local master of business administration program to understand why women are opting out so that we can use this information to help encourage women to achieve leadership roles. We are also identifying women within the organization who have the potential and desire to be a GM within the next three to five years. We then provide senior level mentors, 360-degree feedback, individual career development plans, and an opportunity to foster sponsorship relationships at our recent Women on the Rise conference. Our goal is also to raise awareness and keep the conversation going.”

McCrory believes that progress cannot be made in terms of gender equality, fairness and diversity without the support of men, who currently represent 42% of the network’s members.

“The biggest need for diversity in hospitality, is not only to acknowledge the fact that it is still an opportunity, but to turn those conversations into actions and to ensure that they excite action to create real change,” she said. “RiiSE has addressed the issue that in order to support women in this industry we don’t have to alienate men. RiiSE has drawn attention and awareness to the issue and established collaboration and mentoring of our employees on all levels.”

Diversity matters in business. It’s also a key driver of collective performance. “It is a lot of things: past experience, generational, ethnic, religious differences and the list goes on. The ability to have people with varying perspectives and strengths working alongside each other towards a mutual goal is invaluable,” she said. “These differences spark innovation and creativity. As a growing international company, we need to continuously encourage our employees to be well-rounded and open-­minded individuals. And as I mentioned earlier, we have the metrics to back up that diversified teams are high performing teams who drive superior results.”

In addition, AccorHotels is working to combat stereotypes and create mentorship opportunities.

“We have launched an internal communications program to encourage employees to communicate with one another, regardless of their position in the company,” she said. “RiiSE, along with diversity, prioritizes sharing knowledge and creating a platform for growth through our mentoring program. In 2018, we have paired 900 mentors and mentees across 20 countries. This year we also held our very first Women on the RiiSE NCA regional conference in Austin, TX. Over 90 high-profile, talented women attended the forum where they had the opportunity to learn from and build relationships and establish relationships and receive authentic support for their personal and career development with senior leadership.”

For hoteliers seeking to take a page from AccorHotels’ playbook, McCrory advises them to start the conversation and continuously ask for feedback in order to grow.

“At AccorHotels, we know that no model is one-­size-­fits-­all and that you are need to shift and change programs to better serve your goals,” she said. “Our shift from WAAG to RiiSE is a perfect example of this, and we will work to continually update and improve our programs to support and create effective employee engagement and retention.”