Organization strategy

Kong launches organization to help women and minorities

David Kong, left, recently retired CEO of Best Western Hotel Group, launched DEI Advisors, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women and other minority groups achieve their career aspirations. His fellow directors of the organization are Rachel Humphrey, top right, former executive vice president and chief operating officer of AAHOA, and Lan Elliott, co-founder of Acacia Hospitality LLC.

DAVID KONG, the recently retired CEO of Best Western Hotel Group, launched DEI Advisors, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women and other minority groups achieve their career aspirations. Specifically, it plans to close the diversity gap that still exists at senior management levels in the hospitality industry.

Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, DEI advisers conduct a series of interviews with industry leaders with the aim of sharing inspiration and advice to help individuals navigate their careers. Interviews will learn how to overcome conscious and unconscious biases, seek progress, successfully deal with structural barriers, build networks, advocates and mentors, and better integrate their professional and personal lives.

“I created DEI Advisors as a non-profit organization to collect and share ideas and learnings from industry leaders,” said Kong, who is the director and founder of DEI Advisors. “While many companies are doing tremendous work in the areas of DEI, individuals must also be responsible and feel empowered for their own personal growth and career aspirations. Essentially, we aim to prepare future industry leaders for the driver’s seat of their own journey, where they can truly help create and defend their own destiny.

Other DEI Advisors executives are Rachel Humphrey, former executive vice president and chief operating officer of AAHOA, and Lan Elliott, co-founder of Acacia Hospitality LLC.

Some of the industry leaders interviewed by the new organization include Peggy Berg, founder of the Castell Project who also mentors women in the hospitality industry; Jagruti Panwala, 2019-2020 AAHOA President and Founder of Wealth Protection Strategies; Geoff Ballotti, President and CEO of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts; Heather McCrory, CEO for North and Central America at Accor Hotels who, in 2020, was the Castell Project’s first Castell Award winner; Mary Beth Cutshall, Founder and Managing Partner of Amara Capital; Melissa Maher, Expedia Group Executive Sylvia Douglin, Trainer; and Renie CavallariAmazon bestselling author of “Head Trash.”

Interviews and information will be posted weekly on social media, including YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as on the organization’s website, DEIAdvisors.org. There are also plans to reuse the content and information in a podcast and other resources in the future.

Although the hospitality industry offers good career opportunities and clear paths to advancement, most of the diversity remains at the lower rungs of the industry hierarchy.

This stifles innovation and is not good for business, according to DEI Advisors’ launch announcement. Repair became Kong’s focus after retiring after nearly 20 years as CEO of Best Western.

“I’ve always been a champion for diversity, inclusion and fairness in the industry,” Kong said. “I am now thrilled to take my passion and turn it into something that I truly hope will impact lives, change career trajectories and make a difference.”

Other initiatives have recently emerged focused on promoting women and minorities in the hospitality industry, such as Wyndham’s new “Women Own the Room” program which aims to open the door for more women to become hotel owners. hotel.

The Castell Project’s latest report on women’s leadership in the hospitality industry found that there are now more female executives in leadership roles. According to the project, the next challenge is to attract more women to hospitality training programs.