I hope you and your families are doing well as we approach the start of summer. It has been just incredible to see the tremendous growth in our number of people (welcome to the 2,920 new associates this year alone!!), strong operating results and growth in our hotel portfolio. All of these results are directly due to your leadership and dedication and I am so grateful.
But what amazes me most is how all of you and our teams continue to go above and beyond to meet extremely challenging conditions. When we talk about HEI Loves, we always highlight how important it is that we live up to our commitments to each other every single day. We talk about that knowing that we all do what we do for our families and loved ones. This year we are no doubt living those commitments and truly defining our culture and what Best In Class looks like. The results we are generating will continue to fuel HEI Loves, value for you and your families, and value on behalf of our owners. I hope all of you are as proud of yourselves as I am!
With that, today I wanted to share some exciting updates on HEI Loves with you. With your leadership, we have achieved some amazing progress on so many initiatives. You will also see that there are many new projects underway! My update here is not intended to be a summary of Loves from inception, but rather just an update on primarily Q2 initiatives (and our progress together on some initiatives that started before Q2).
Mental Health & Emotional Wellness
Our new Mental Health and Wellness in our workplace initiative is well underway. With Mental Health Awareness Month upon us, we have just completed our Mental Wellness Assessment and will be meeting with our third party partner — Sapien Labs (the experts in this space) to learn how we can best incorporate your feedback into further program expansion. But against such a critically important initiative, we are not waiting on the survey results to take action. To share just a few of the steps we have taken, we are launching a brand new Heart-of-House campaign that leverages our partnership with Anthem to help us increase awareness and utilization of our current resources and new ones. Awareness of critical programming and benefits that we already have under our Employee Assistance Program (“EAP”) is desperately needed as we are underutilizing them. We did some research and discovered that less than 1% of our associates utilize our EAP as compared to 5% for the average company using EAP. So we absolutely can and will do so much more here. Additionally, as part of this initiative we are offering a free wellness seminar series with Peak Wellness (which we just recently communicated) that will be kicking off next Wednesday. We hope you’ll join us for these live classes, starting with Mindfulness 101 and Chair Yoga. There is so much more on the way — way too much (and too important) to condense into one paragraph of a letter. In the near term, you will receive a full update from me on the multi-step plan I outlined by video conference earlier in the year.
Women in Leadership
Our Women In Leadership program was formed to close the gender parity gap at the General Manager level, where we started at under 5% in 2018. With our current goal of achieving 40% parity by the end of 2023, we are currently at 27% with 22 female GMs! This progress has only motivated us to continue breaking this barrier, and I look forward to achieving our next goal with all of your continued support and leadership. You may have seen the headlines last month as the members of our WIL Council partnered with North Texas Food Bank to help fight hunger by putting together over 11,000 bagged meals for children in that area who do not have the opportunity to obtain nutritious meals over the weekend when they are not in school. This was an amazing example of HEI Loves in action, and the team can’t wait for the next opportunity to give back to their community. The WIL Council also attended AHLA’ss ForWard Conference in Chicago, focusing on women advancing hospitality. Congratulations to our very own Rachel Moniz, who was recently elected to the board of ForWard! This will not only make a difference advancing women in operations at HEI, but across our entire industry.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
As you know, we are committed to achieve complete racial equality at every level of management across our entire company by the end of 2026. Although we have so many initiatives, this one rightfully rises amongst some of the most important. We are currently targeting to improve racial parity further within senior leadership across disciplines at all of our hotels. People of color make up 40% of our country’s workforce. Right now at HEI, they make up 31% of our General Managers and Directors of Finance, 27% of our Directors of Sales, 21% of our Directors of Revenue, and 55% of our Directors of HR. Although I am so proud that we are making great strides to close the gap, you have my commitment that we will never let up in achieving our goal of complete parity. A new force in further advancing this goal will be our new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program, which is now accepting applicants for the Operations and Finance disciplines. Similar to our WIL Program, the DE&I Program will develop associates that are of a racial minority group, who have an interest in advancing in their discipline and a goal of becoming a GM or DOF. We’re beyond excited to begin candidate selections, so please make sure to submit your nominations by June 1.
Our partnership with Hiring Our Heroes (“HOH”) is stronger than ever and, thanks to a very successful pilot program, is expanding to additional states! We wish these veterans and military spouses the best of luck on their fellowships in the Finance, Human Resources, and Rooms departments and we will continue to do everything we can to make them successful. And as I noted earlier, our success to date with HOH will be expanding yet again this summer to what will now be our third market- the great state of Texas! A BIG Texas shout-out goes out to all of the hotels involved and the Talent Acquisition Team for helping to make this incredibly rewarding initiative a success!
HEI is dedicated to actively building an associate community of diverse cultures, backgrounds and experiences. With programs in place to advance the gender and racial parity of HEI’s workforce to reflect that of our nation, we are expanding our inclusion programs to tackle a third area. There are 61 million adults in the United States who live with a disability, yet these skilled individuals are underrepresented in the workforce. We have begun a brand new partnership and will be advancing this initiative with the help of Bender Consulting (another third party expert in the field). Through this partnership, we are making targeted efforts to hire more associates with disabilities. We have just begun this partnership in the Washington Metropolitan Area, and are excited to have several candidates currently going through the interview process! Much more will follow here after we complete what I am confident will be a successful pilot program under HEI Loves!
Mentoring & Development
Our new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program will begin next month, as we start selecting six members each for our Operations and Finance Programs, led by Rachel Moniz and Marcus Harris. Just as we do through our Women in Leadership Council, we will work with these associates to create targeted development plans and mentor them in their career path to became Executive Committee Leaders here at HEI. We will also be kicking off our Annual Hourly Associate Review and Merit Increase process this summer, and as I promised earlier in the year, are excited to continue the career development discussions at every level of the company. With our focus on mentoring and developing all of our associates, it is no surprise that this year alone, we have had 287 internal promotions!
Love Moments Award
Recognizing and rewarding our associates is a foundational pillar of HEI Loves. Our HEI Love Moment Program does just that, by recognizing and rewarding our non-manager associates for moments of going above and beyond for their teams and their guests. We made a goal to celebrate and award 100 associates in 2022, and I am elated to share that so far we have had 34 well deserving Love Moment Award Winners! Reading these incredible stories only confirms that we have the best associates in the industry, who bring HEI Loves to everything that they do. Pictured here is Love Moment Award Winner of Westin Atlanta Perimeter, Zheko, who is not only repairing a child’s toy, but proving that no task is too small to brighten a guest’s day. Congratulations to all of our winners! We look forward to celebrating your continued dedication and success.
HEI Love Kits
We have launched a fantastic series of HEI Love Kits that help optimize everything we do for our associates, from interviews to digital communications (with so many more kits to follow). The kits have been a huge success and we will be holding a Love Kit Roundup to review all of these materials and answer any of your questions, which will of course be recorded and posted on The Heart. We have also had phenomenal success celebrating and connecting with our associates through our Seasonal Love Kits. It has been so great to see the photos and videos from your Spring, Mother’s Day, and National Third Shift Worker’s Day Celebrations, so please continue to share them with us. Here you can see the Doubletree Austin had a great time celebrating Mother’s Day last week! Thank you to all of those that have been instrumental in designing and launching the HEI Loves Kits!
HEI Loves on the Heart
We are launching a brand new HEI Loves page on The Heart. We know that your inbox fills up fast, and we don’t want you to miss out on any of these incredible HEI Loves Initiatives! The HEI Loves page is a one-stop-shop where you can access everything from HEI Love Kits to benefits collateral. This will be the best place to find the latest resources, posters, videos, and links, Visit the HEI Loves page under the Hotel Operations tab to learn more.
It has been devastating to see the news of the ruthless aggression and senseless evil inflicted on the people of Ukraine. Under HEI Loves, we all stood with the people of Ukraine and donated $10,000 to Save the Children’s Ukrainian Relief Fund. But the Love has not stopped there. It has been so moving to see through your Love Stories that so many hotels have also held drives and made donations to this incredibly worthy cause. It is important to come together in times like these, with love, solidarity, and support. Through HEI Loves, we have done just that.
So there you all have it as an update on HEI Loves for the Second Quarter. Again, I cannot thank all of you enough for your passion and leadership. Together, we continue to strengthen our culture of HEI Loves and our future truly is brighter than ever.
All my love to you and your families as we approach the weekend.