Speaking at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI,) on a panel about “Women Decision-Makers in the Global Economy,” Marriott International, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer, Arne Sorenson voiced the company’s strong commitment to supporting the advancement of women as part of the growth strategy for the global hospitality company, which has 3800 hotels in 72 countries.
“Our portfolio of hotels will benefit tremendously if women are able to achieve their full potential in the global economy,” said Sorenson. “That’s why we are focused on advancing women in our company’s management and executive ranks, gaining their loyalty as customers, creating economic opportunity as hotel owners, and nurturing women-owned businesses through our supply chain. This is an important strategy for Marriott’s global growth and the vitality of communities where we do business.”
A commitment to diversity and inclusion has been woven through the fabric of Marriott’s culture since its founding more than 85 years ago. Through the company’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Council, which drives Marriott’s global strategy, each of the company’s five Continent Presidents, have regional diversity and inclusion goals, focusing on customers, associates, hotel owners and the women and diverse-owned businesses which sell goods and services to Marriott. Women-owned businesses make up the largest spend with diverse groups, accounting for 10 percent of Marriott’s total purchases of products. In 2012, Marriott spent $257 million with 4,000 women-owned businesses in North America.
CGI - Uniform - Shanghai Qing HeToday, at the Clinton Global Initiative, Marriott joined more than a dozen corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in a five-year commitment to expand its engagement with women-owned businesses outside the United States, especially in emerging economies. Working with WEConnect International and Vital Voices, two prominent NGOs that support and promote the economic potential of women, Marriott will be part of the pledge to train 15,000 women business owners and spend $1.5 billion with their companies by 2018.
“We know our hotels are greenhouses for executive talent and can elevate women through leadership training, mentorships, and through our procurement with women-owned businesses around the world,” continued Sorenson. For example, Marriott is already working with women-owned businesses that are supplying hotels in China with high-quality beef, wooden and bamboo crafts, and uniforms. The company is also investing in women in rural Sichuan Province through its Nobility of Nature environmental project, which supports sustainable bee-keeping cooperatives that produce honey for use in Marriott-operated hotels in China.
In Rwanda, Marriott has partnered with a vocational school called the Akilah Institute for Women to bring 15 women from their first graduating class to work and train in Marriott hotels in Dubai. The women are getting on-the-job skills, leadership training, and will be prepared after 18 months to return, as part of the management team, to open the company’s first Sub-Saharan Africa hotel – the Kigali Marriott Hotel in 2014. A second class of 20 women will begin the program later this year. The company is also working, pre-opening, to identify women-owned businesses that can become part of the supply chain.
This is the model Marriott plans to follow in Haiti, where Marriott worked with the Clinton Foundation to find a partner to build a Marriott hotel in partnership with Digicel. In Latin American, the company has pledged to identify and build capacity among high-potential women-owned business through mentorship, supplier readiness training and engagement as potential suppliers, beginning in Mexico.