An exploratory study on factors affecting the recruitment, retention and promotion of blacks in upper-level lodging management

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Virginia Tech


Relative to whites, blacks occupy a very small percentage of upper-level management positions in the lodging industry. This is evident when the numbers of black upper-level managers are compared to their representation in the hospitality labor pool and the United States population. This study uses the perceptions of black general managers and corporate executives as a means of identifying factors affecting the recruitment, retention, and promotion of blacks into these positions.

While most of the literature attributed the underrepresentation to race discrimination, this study explores other factors that may also be responsible. One area of exploration was the use of internal marketing principles as a means of addressing and possibly resolving the problem of under-representation.

The study consisted of telephone interviews with seven black general managers and executives from four major hotel chains. The purpose of the study was to determine if and to what extent did race discrimination affect the advancement of blacks into upper-level lodging management. It was also designed to explore the extent to which other factors affected such advancement by blacks, and further, identify ways in which hotel companies could enhance advancement opportunities for their qualified black employees.

The respondents of the study provided enough information to develop conclusions about the impact such factors like education, mentorship, societal perceptions, and internal marketing have on the advancement of blacks in the lodging industry. There was unanimous agreement that race discrimination did adversely affect the advancement of blacks into upper-level lodging management. However, there it was also noted that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity in the industry that is either being overlooked or simply not being pursued by blacks. These respondents also provided several recommendations for young blacks considering careers in lodging management.