Improving Diverse People’s Experience by Showing Everyone the World - Tyronne Stoudemire
Travel Weekly published their recent research findings that 61% of Black professionals in the travel industry feel that the industry is not diverse and inclusive. The white professionals in travel said the opposite. To gain perspective, Travel Weekly asked 7 Black professionals of the Northstar Travel Group Black Advisory Board to have a discussion on their personal experiences in the industry.
Of the 7 professionals was the global vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion for Hyatt Hotels, Tyronne Stoudemire. Tyronne moderated the conversation and also provided personal insights:
“Dr. Nancy Adler did research on organizational behavior and found that, on a multicultural team, if a leader ignores or suppresses cultural differences or sees cultural differences as an obstacle, the team won’t perform as well as a monocultural team of, say, all white men or all white women. But, a multicultural team where a leader acknowledges, supports, and sees cultural differences as an asset to performance, will outperform a homogeneous team.
“This is because when you’re not suppressed and ignored, alongside a critical mass of people of color, you’re able to get results and feel good about being there. But let’s talk about the other side of that.
“There’s a saying that we have to prove ourselves competent, and white men have to prove that they’re not competent. If a white man is given an opportunity and he is not quite ready for that opportunity, he takes it anyway. When some other color is given an opportunity, we do what? We need more education, we need more skills. That tends to be the case.
“I want to talk about stereotypes and archetypes. The stereotype is that we all behave a certain way, that all Black folks eat fried chicken and watermelon, right? Of course, we’re all very different in the selection of food that we eat.
“And archetype is: We have a tendency. So, as Blacks, we have a tendency sometimes to be very animated. Our voices sometimes elevate when we’re passionate.
“We’ve all experienced that, and we’ve learned at an early age that in order to be successful, in order to come across with a certain persona, we code-switch to fit in, to get along, to get ahead. But then, we’re not being our full authentic self. And when we’re not fully authentic, we’re not giving our best. We’re not as productive.
“America was built on the backs of Black people. But now that we’re in situations where we have opportunities to excel, there is something that’s prohibiting us from moving forward. In my opinion, it’s fear-based. It’s polarization. Them against us. One up and one down.
“Many of us today have privilege. I’m afforded a certain amount of privilege because of the role and responsibility I have in a major organization. But, at the end of the day, when I leave the four walls of that organization, I am still a Black man and everything that comes with it.
“I am still liable to be pulled over by police and asked, ‘Whose car are you driving? What are you doing in this neighborhood?’ And I have to respond. And be very submissive. I know that the other side of that coin is that I could be murdered. I could be killed right there in my own car. That is not conceivable for many of our white counterparts.
“I had a conversation with my parents about driving while Black when I was 5. How many of our white counterparts have had to have those types of conversations with their children?
“So we’re living in a world that’s Black and white, and white is right and Black is wrong. We have to open people’s minds. [White people] have to have that ‘aha’ moment. They should self-correct and influence others and systems. We have to get feedback. We have a huge responsibility and, working in travel, probably the most successful thing for us to do is to show the world to people of different backgrounds and cultures. To allow people to have a journey into those cultures and go into those communities and see how people thrive and strive.
“We could be the vehicles for other corporations who join us on this journey of diversity, equity and inclusion by showing them the world, that is very diverse and different.
“Each of us is given 24 hours to do what we will. We can do something good or do nothing at all. You’ve been empowered. You’ve been inspired to do something different. I charge you to do something different for the Black community in your next 24 hours, to make a difference in the lives of all. We solve for one, but we all benefit. When the tide rises, all boats rise up high. We’re not leaving anybody behind, we’re not pushing anybody forward. We’re coming together at this. We’ll solve this together.”
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