Our panel of hospitality professionals shed a bright light on the impact of race in hospitality.
Hosted by: Douglas Riccardi
What needs to change in our collective effort to create a more diverse and equitable future? This was the question posed by NYCHG on August 12th and member Douglas Riccardi reached out to his network and pulled together a stellar group to conduct this conversation. Julia Turshen author and founder of Equity at the Table, our guest moderator, expanded on this question and asked the speakers to unravel “why is this question worth asking?” Our panel of hospitality professionals weighed in throughout the session and provided illuminating answers as well as insightful statements as they each approached the questions posed to them during the panel.
Julia began by asking the panel as a whole to comment on the difference between diversity and equity. Kutina Ruhumbika VP of HR for Major Food Group jumped in with “diversity is not always equitable. Diversity doesn’t always mean that everyone has the same shot at the same goals.” Aretah Ettarh a sous chef at Gramercy Tavern, added that some operators have the mentality of “we’re diverse because not everyone is white so we’ve done the work” but in fact, “how you break down how people are paid and their role in leadership” is where the real equity comes in. Letitcia Skai Young-Mohan the owner of Lolo’s Seafood Shack, added that “diversity is representation; representation and a seat at the table. Diversity is also about access as an owner; access to deals, money, capital and opportunities in general.” Kobla Asamoah Head of Small Business at Hot Bread Kitchen, echoed this point of view and shared that “diversity is a start….but it does not mean equity. The shot is not the same for small businesses; there’s so many elements across the spectrum before a business can be sustainable and if you don’t have those pieces then you don’t have equity.”
Throughout the webinar, Julia posed a number of insightful questions and acknowledged the power of each story and personal insight that was shared, as she guided the panelists by posing follow-up questions and also integrating questions from the attendees.
Each panelist brought his and her full experience of institutionalized racism in hospitality to the talk and shared some incredible & truthful insights. Among many powerful moments, these resonated with attendees and members alike:
The panel finished the webinar by touching on cross-racial inclusion with Aretah illuminating that “anti-Blackness is pervasive in all communities, including the Black community. So it’s important to acknowledge that just because you’re not white doesn’t mean you have anti-Black tendencies. That’s part of the homework that everyone should be doing.” She continued: “You know, it’s an institution and systematic for hundreds of years and It’s going to take more than this singular conversation to see the strides that we’re hoping for.”
Julia completed the webinar by sharing the framework that helps her engage with others on the topic of race and equity. “I use my experiences (as a gay woman, a Jewish woman) as roads into having more empathy and understanding and not roads out of the conversation.”
Watch the full video for more insights and truths about race and hospitality.
For more information and community support:
Please visit the NYCHG Community Hotline, a Facebook Group where hospitality operators can ask questions and members will provide professional guidance.
Established in 2009, The New York City Hospitality Group ("NYCHG") is a New York City-centric organization dedicated to serving the restaurant and hospitality industry. NYCHG is comprised of the best in class professionals that act as a resource to each other and the hospitality community.
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