Beyond hiring: How inclusion fuels innovation

Andrew Newmark shares how Marriott’s commitment to DE&I drives innovation and excellence across Asia-Pacific excluding China.
By: | June 5, 2024

Diversity is not just a talking point at Marriott International; it is the secret sauce that fuels their success. Here, cultures collide not just in the bustling lobbies, but behind the scenes as well. Teams not only work together; they celebrate the strengths each person brings to the table.

Speaking with HRM Asia, Andrew Newmark, Chief Human Resources Officer – Asia-Pacific excluding China, Marriott International, unveiled the secret. “Our commitment to DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is evident in our global people branding ‘Be’,” he explained. This campaign embodies their approach through three key pillars: begin, belong, and become. These pillars guide associates from their onboarding journey through their career progression, ensuring they feel valued and supported at every stage.

He continued, “Throughout the journey, our associates have the opportunity to explore diverse roles in the hospitality industry and access the tools needed for professional and personal growth. To reach our over 95,000 associates in Asia-Pacific excluding China region, we leverage various technologies to communicate and promote job opportunities and offer foundational learning programmes, addressing diverse needs and promoting continuous development for associates at all levels and backgrounds.”

This dedication to DE&I shines through their actions. Job postings actively promote their inclusive culture, welcoming people from all walks of life, as Newmark explained, “Our job postings highlight our inclusive culture and commitment to equal opportunity, supporting people with disabilities, refugees, senior citizens, and returning parents through training, work opportunities, and flexible work arrangements. This inclusive approach positions Marriott as a top choice for talent seeking employers who value DE&I.”

Marriott’s collaboration with external community organisations and partners further amplifies its DE&I efforts. In South Asia, for instance, Marriott partnered with the Sarthak Education Trust and the Helen Keller Foundation to improve the recruitment, onboarding, and support for hiring associates with disabilities. This initiative, according to Newmark, led to a 180% increase in the disability inclusion workforce by the end of 2023.

“In Australia, we started our collaboration with the Australian Disability Network’s Employing 100 programme last year,” he added. “The results have been encouraging, showcasing practices that make employment more accessible for people with disabilities.”

Central to Marriott’s inclusive culture are its Associate Resource Groups (ARGs), which support diverse communities within the organisation, including women and the LGBTQ+ community. These groups create a sense of belonging and allow associates to celebrate their background while contributing to their communities.

He continued, “Our philosophy of growing great leaders at all levels is brought to life through our foundational leadership development programmes, which build the skillset leaders need to create an environment of collaboration, trust, respect, opportunity, and inclusion. Beyond these core programmes, we continue to weave inclusion education throughout our talent development programmes and leadership accelerators.”

“By integrating DE&I into every aspect of our operations, Marriott not only attracts top talent from underrepresented groups but also creates an environment where all associates can thrive.” – Andrew Newmark, Chief Human Resources Officer – Asia-Pacific excluding China, Marriott International

“By integrating DE&I into every aspect of our operations, Marriott not only attracts top talent from underrepresented groups but also creates an environment where all associates can thrive.”

Prioritising qualities enhanced by diversity

With nearly 8,700 hotel properties globally, Marriott recognises that a diverse workforce is not just about demographics. Newmark emphasised that Marriott prioritises a range of skills and qualities that are particularly enhanced by a diverse workforce, aligning with the organisation’s core values of putting people first, pursuing excellence, and embracing change, as he outlined how Marriott assesses candidates based on these skills and qualities.

He continued, “In addition to these qualities, we use a combination of structured interviews and assessments to evaluate candidates. This comprehensive approach ensures we identify individuals who not only possess the necessary experience and skills but also embody the inclusive and collaborative spirit that drives Marriott International’s success.”

“By prioritising these qualities, we ensure that our workforce continues to reflect the diverse and dynamic world we serve, fostering an environment where innovation and excellence thrive.” 

However, unconscious bias can be a hurdle in any recruitment process. To combat this, Marriott utilises bias awareness training for managers and executives, coupled with enhanced recruitment processes, to ensure fairer hiring measures across the board. Furthermore, the organisation’s board-level Inclusion and Social Impact Committee oversees its global approach to associate inclusion, people culture, and other ESG-related matters, ensuring continuous progress and accountability.

READ MORE: Creating a great place to work with a people-first workplace culture

Newmark advises HR leaders aiming to build a more diverse talent pipeline to recognise that DE&I is a continuous journey that must start from the top. He emphasised the importance of understanding the unique needs of associates and embedding DE&I principles across all business functions.

“Explore new talent pools, develop inclusive leadership, and integrate DE&I across all business functions,” Newmark concluded. “By implementing these strategies, you can create a more inclusive and diverse workforce that drives innovation and excellence.”