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Managing Diversity: Marriott Leads Lodging Industry

The article “Marriott Leads Lodging Industry” describes the achievements of the international hotel operator in diversity management. This year, Marriott International, Inc. was ranked number 11 among the “Top 50 Companies for Diversity”. The company executive underlines that inclusive culture gives great opportunities for the company and allows it to deliver high-quality services and meet the demands of diverse customer groups. Communication constitutes the basic process of human interaction. Through communication, diversity problems can be described, solutions can be discovered, and plans can be devised. Usually, the CEO must send the first message in a diversity initiative communication. The CEO underlines that diversity management is crucial for success as the company operates in the international arena: “We understand and value of diversity at every level… from our senior leadership team to our on-property employees” (Marriott Leads Lodging Industry 2008). The company understands that cultures devise symbols to label things around them. Important things are given specific names and less important things are given generic names. Different cultures may have different meanings for the same symbol or word. Many words are culture-based and have no direct translation. Semantics becomes quite relevant when one tries to translate from one language to another. During the course of sharing experiences or work, people talk and communicate their cultures to each other. Ideally, they will discover differences, ask questions, offer support, and share emotions and feelings. This is the crossroad of communication. In diversity workshops, the participants make decisions about each other–about each other’s culture. Individuals learn the norms and rules of interaction through the language socialization process. In every culture, in most situations, there are special forms of words, or types of conversation, which are thought to be appropriate. The main advantage of Marriott is that it “reached historic milestones in its companywide diversity initiatives over the past year, including spending a record $478 million (13.6 percent) with women and minority-owned businesses; establishing a new goal of spending 15 percent with minority-, women- and gay- and lesbian-owned U.S. suppliers by 2009” (Marriott Leads Lodging Industry 2008). In this process, they learn culturally appropriate worldviews and beliefs which, in turn, validate their sense of cultural identity and lend credence to their role identities. The company understands that every culture has a set of shared assumptions about the meaning of reality and how one determines what is real. Western-oriented cultures tend to define reality empirically by applying the concepts of science and rationality. The article states that conversely, non-Western cultures, generally determine reality subjectively. Basic to human functioning are assumptions about appropriate ways for people to act in relation to their environment. Depending on their culture, most employees can be classified as having a doing orientation or a being orientation.

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Questions for Leadership

  1. What is the role of leadership in diversity management?
  2. Why are the best practices introduced by the CEO to meet diversity issues?
  3. What are the personal qualities of the leader important for diversity management?
  4. What would you recommend to Marriott to become number 1 in the Top 50 Companies for Diversity?

Works Cited

Marriott Leads Lodging Industry on DiversityInc’s Top 50 List. BusinessWeek. 2008. Web.

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