'Why allyship and hospitality go hand in hand' @ IHS, London

Hospitality is known for its diversity. So, why is it that the higher up the chain of command you go, the more people start to look (and think) the same?

This month Lightning founder Chris King joined the founder of hertelier Emily Goldfischer, founder of Women in Travel CIC Alessandra Alonso, and Hotel Manager at One Aldwych Gavin Couper onstage at the Independent Hotel Show London to share their thoughts on how allyship and advocacy for marginalised groups can benefit the entire industry.

Watch how the panel unfolded below. TLDW? Here are some insightful soundbites from the session:


On what it means to be an ally…

“[Allyship is] giving people a voice that don’t necessarily have a voice.” – GC

“Allyship is being active in your support of other people. That is it at it’s purest.” – CK

“Silence is complicity. If you are not actively supporting minority groups, you are complicit to the things those people in those communities may encounter.” – CK

“It’s recognising that we all have privilege. Even for myself, as a trans, neurodiverse person, it took me a while to realise that even I have privilege.” – CK

“It’s important that we don’t try to speak on behalf of communities that we are not part of, and we recognise they have their own struggles.” – CK

“Allyship is educating yourself.  I think a lot of people think, ‘It’s your job as a trans person to educate me.’ No, it’s not. I will share my stories, but it is ultimately up to you to want to support us. Go away, find information, and educate yourself.” – CK

An ally should never be conspicuous. An ally doesn’t take the space of the person or the group. He, she, they are actively wanting to support. For me, an example of allyship is providing someone with an opportunity they may not otherwise have.” – AA

“Anyone can be an ally to someone else – we all have a role to play in allyship.” – AA


On how ED&I fits into business…

“People do not see diversity and inclusion and culture as the same thing, and they really should… At the moment with ED&I, it is an add-on. Companies should be seeing this as growing it at their core.” – CK

“We don’t just want one month. We want people to look at HR policies, support the staff you have. Have you got minority groups in your senior leadership team? Are you consistently putting comms out to support those people?” – CK

“Authenticity – we are going back to that. Because, ultimately, if the culture, the transparency, and that ongoing and constant allyship behaviour isn’t role modelled across the organisation, you are going to be caught… And that will have a hugely negative impact, not just on your ability to retain and attract talent, but also on your broader stakeholder community: your clients, your customers, your suppliers, society around you, those people who add value to your brand just by being there… It’s not just about the moral argument, it’s about the commercial argument.” – AA

“Allyship matters because of all the people out there who are waiting to see what you are going to do to include them. And if you do then they are going to be your best customer, your best employee.” – AA


On practical tips for being an ally…

“Whether it’s allyship, whether it’s diversity – it can feel quite daunting. But actually, often, the small changes are the big changes – they make the big difference. If you give someone an opportunity by saying: ‘Which pronouns would you like me to use?’, you’ve already conquered a customer. You’ve won them over already, because it’s unlikely they will be used to that kind of question.” – AA

“It is okay if you f**k up with campaigns. I think the biggest hindrance to people when they want to do something positive as an ally to communities is being scared of getting things wrong. As long as you are involving people in these discussions and you’re doing it for the right reasons, if you do make a mistake in a campaign you run, it’s okay. It’s how you handle it that matters.”  – CK

“Allyship and the broader diversity and inclusion is a journey. It’s not a one-off, you haven’t done it, ticked the box, put it on the shelf and forget about it. It’s continuous improvement.” – AA


While you’re here, we have to plug the Male Allyship Network. Created by Women in Travel CIC, it’s currently supported by around 30 senior male leaders across the hospitality industry and offers both networking and mentoring opportunities.

“The reason why we created this,” explains Alessandra, “is that we felt often senior leaders who are men shy away from the conversation around diversity, allyship, inclusion, because they feel often cornered, that they’re going to put their foot wrong, they are going to be judged.”

On the contrary, she goes on, “We feel that if you want to have a really inclusive conversation, everyone is included. So, actually, the white, middle-class male senior leaders who are in positions of influence – who can impact and make a different – are truly important to engage in those conversations.”

To get involved, visit the Women in Travel CIC website.

Also don't forget to subscribe to Hertelier for some incredible content from inspiring women. 

And of course, check out One Aldwych - we just love an independent hotel with strong values.

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Chris King

21st October

Company news Blog ED&I