IHG Hotels & Resorts has teamed up with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Morehouse College (MC) and Clark Atlanta University (CAU) for a mutually beneficial collaboration through their early career recruitment program. IHG diversifies and enhances their staff with talented and ambitious employees and the educational institutions have a corporate relationship that can provide opportunities for students in many areas of study to be successful going forward in the world.

IHG Diversifies

IHG, which has hotels, resorts and event spaces spanning Canada, the United States, Mexico, Europe, Japan and China, is now looking to HBCUs to recruit educated and dedicated hospitality professionals to join their team.

IHG is excited to work with HBCUs and train future professionals. Nicole Lewis, head of talent and diversity, equity and inclusion for IHG Hotels & Resorts, stressed not only the moral importance to bolster career opportunities for underrepresented communities but also the financial benefit of a diverse staff.

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“According to the McKinsey study ‘Why Diversity Matters,’ companies with gender-diverse executive suites were 15% more likely to generate above-average profitability compared to companies whose executive teams were predominantly white and male,” says Lewis. “Therefore, we know that diverse workforces aren’t just the right thing to do, but it’s better for business, no matter what industry you’re in.”

Students Receive Education, Resources and Connections

Douglas Cooper, director of career development and engagement at Morehouse College, explained that the goal of the partnership with IHG is not to place students in service jobs. Rather, its purpose is to provide a much broader source of opportunities than one might expect from the hospitality industry.

“Business students, they may go into banking. Those students that are in computer science may be going to Google or some of the tech companies. But this provides us a broader range of opportunities for our students, regardless of what their area of study is. And that is what is quite attractive to us,” says Cooper.

Lewis agrees with Cooper’s claim of diverse career opportunities within the hospitality industry and gives insight into the wide range of skill IHG looks for in a potential employee.

“Candidates should have the potential for solid leadership abilities, great communication skills and a strong customer focus,” says Lewis. “Other key areas of study include business, finance, digital and information technology.”

While Morehouse College is an all-male HBCU, Cooper wanted readers to know about the diversity of the college’s student body and the ways in which their talented young men have been educated through the college and their partnership with IHG to be excellent employees and future leaders.

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“Obviously, Morehouse college is an all-male, primarily African American institution. And that would suggest to some that it is a somewhat monolithic population. It’s actually a very diverse population of students from different socioeconomic classes from different geographic spaces.”

Yet there is one unifying factor among all Morehouse College students—the school mantra.

“The development of men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service.”

Gender Diversity Is Equally Important

While Morehouse College is an all-male college, Clark Atlanta University is co-ed and has many female students who have enrolled in the IHG internship program. Lewis ensures the diversity pipeline from HBCUs to IHG careers is for students of any race or gender.

“As an example of IHG’s partnership with CAU and MC, this summer, several students from both schools joined IHG for its internship program, which included engagements with senior leaders and working on a variety of in-depth projects across the business, including Operations, Marketing and Revenue Management teams,” says Lewis.

The Mutual Benefit

Both Cooper and Lewis agree that the partnership between educational institutions and the hospitality industry are beneficial to everyone involved.

“These partnerships are part of IHG’s broader pledge to make meaningful progress on its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) commitments, which includes doubling the representation of ethnically diverse colleagues in Americas-based corporate leadership roles over the next three years,” says Lewis.

Cooper is excited for Morehouse students to be provided career opportunities students may not have considered or been able to pursue.

“I think what our students are getting to know and what we were aware of—there are just a multitude of opportunities in that industry,” says Cooper. “So again, you can be someone that’s doing finance, or you can be someone that’s got a technical background. The diversity of the opportunity that exists in the industry is certainly of interest.”

The partnership between IHG and HBCUs is beneficial in many ways. Not only does the business relationship promote equality and inclusiveness within IHG, but provides Morehouse College and CAU students with the resources and education to be successful in the hospitality industry.