TORONTO ─ Long before the topic of women’s leadership was fashionable, Marriott International recognized women’s leadership as a business imperative vital to Marriott’s success.
That commitment and belief is being recognized with the news last week that Arne Sorenson is this year’s winner of the Katie Taylor Economic Empowerment Award, to be presented on October 14th at the Women in Tourism & Hospitality (WITH) Summit, which is being held virtually this year.
On learning that he was this year’s winner of the prestigious award, Sorenson said “We are honored to receive the Katie Taylor Economic Empowerment Award from Women in Tourism & Hospitality. Our culture of putting people first is the cornerstone of our women’s advancement initiatives. It’s at the core of everything we do, as we embrace what makes each associate unique. We are proud of the contributions women have made to Marriott’s success over our 93 years and equally proud that Marriott is a place of inclusive opportunity for all of our associates. Since the pioneering work of our co-founder Alice S. Marriott in 1927, we have continued to benefit from the leadership and talents of many women who have shaped our workplace and the growth of our company.”
In 1999, Marriott Hotels was the first hospitality company to establish a Women’s Leadership Development Initiative, a vital platform that has catapulted women into senior and executive leadership roles through career development and sponsorship programs. The program has helped to develop a strong pipeline of women leaders, provide opportunities for women to network and build mentoring relationships, and promote work-life integration strategies.
Among the core tenets of the strategy, the following are its objectives:
- Increase the presence of women at the highest level of management and in other decision-making positions.
- Strengthen the career development process.
- Develop a role for senior management to play in ensuring that women progress.
- Capitalize on the current women leaders to drive the success of the organization.
As a result of those efforts, women hold many of the most powerful positions at Marriott. Of the nine global direct reports to CEO Arne Sorenson, four are women with roles of: executive vice-president and CFO; group president – Consumer Operations, Technology & Emerging Businesses; executive vice-president and Global Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer; and executive vice-president and general counsel. Of the 11 members of Marriott’s global board of directors, four are women. Women are also represented in many revenue-generating roles such as general manager.
According to Apoorva Gandhi, vice-president, Multicultural Affairs and Business Councils, Marriott International, “We have seen consistent and significant growth in the numbers of women in leadership positions at all levels over the past decades.”
Ghandi goes on to state that the company has “established workplace policies and practices to ensure and demonstrate our commitment to attract, develop and retain women leaders. Our policies and practices range from creating a welcoming and inclusive environment to providing the tools and resources necessary for supporting associates in managing their work and personal lives.”
Additionally, Marriott has placed a special emphasis on empowering and ensuring that women obtain the training and coaching needed to ascend to senior leadership levels of the company. Best-practice policies and programs contributing to women’s advancement include the Emerging Leader Program, Alice S. Marriott Leadership Series, Talent Network Teams, Diversity & Inclusion Councils, women’s networking groups, paid maternity and parental leaves, adoption assistance, infertility coverage, new parent coaching, tuition reimbursement, and workplace flexibility options.