The Drake Hotel opened on Valentine’s Day in 2004 and quickly became a spot not just for accommodations but also for art and music. Today, The Drake Hotel has three properties across Toronto. In addition to being a venue for arts, weddings, and accommodations, The Drake Hotel also offers retail and dining experiences.
The DEI Journey Begins for The Drake Hotel
As of 2016, Toronto had 442,020 Black Canadians, and while the community added to the diversity of the city, in 2020 the conversation shifted to the changes that still needed to be made to ensure equity for these Torontonians. At the Drake Hotel, too, the company was having conversations about making changes in the wake of the killing of Gorge Floyd and the other global events which prompted new conversations about equity.
More than having conversations, The Drake Hotel was taking action. They created a community council with six local business leaders from the Black community who met with The Drake Hotel senior executive team quarterly. They worked with an organization that helped create focus groups for The Drake Hotel team and led training sessions. The Drake Hotel even drafted an official anti-racism policy.
While these shifts were positive steps, something was missing — a specific framework for robust change. That’s when one of the members of the community council suggested Diversio.
DEI Pain & Opportunities
In June 2020, many companies took part in a social media “blackout,” posting black squares on social media platforms as a show of solidarity for the fight for racial equity. The initiative itself sparked controversy, with some alleging the social media posts were reductive. In addition, some people were calling out companies they saw as hypocritical — companies who were posting black squares but who had practices that held the Black community back.
It was in this context that The Drake Hotel started working with Diversio — during one of the most challenging periods in the company’s history. There were more surprises to come, too. While Diversio established that The Drake Hotel was above industry averages when it came to hiring and retaining women and Black team members, more work was needed to bring diversity to leadership. This was something that hadn’t been evident before working with Diversio when the team wasn’t able to track diversity with metrics.
ROI, Results, & Looking Into the Future
The Drake Hotel began working with Diversio to address a potential gap in racial equity, but metrics showed other returns on investment, too. Working with Diversio, The Drake Hotel realized that while the company took part in Pride events and had many LGBTQIA+ team members, data gathering showed team members felt more could be done to create a safe space. The company had diversity, but feedback showed more was needed to create a truly inclusive space for LGBTQIA+ employees.
There was another opportunity for growth, too. Diversio uncovered that 40% of The Drake Hotel employees self-identified as living with mental health issues. This was not even on the company’s radar, and knowing this metric highlighted another area where the company could make changes. Without Diversio, these hidden issues might never have come to light.
With data and the buy-in from the executive team, team members, and the community council, The Drake Hotel found they could drive conversations, and Diversio offered recommendations they could act on.
Diversio offers a proprietary “Inclusion Score™” to give companies one number they can use to compare their diversity to others within their sector. This score also helps businesses track their progress. The Drake Hotel is now about four points ahead of its industry when it comes to women, six points ahead when it comes to representation of LGBTQIA+ team members, and 20 points ahead in the representation of disability and people living with mental health conditions.
In the hospitality industry, attracting and retaining talent is important and challenging. In the U.S., the tourism industry has an annualized employee turnover rate of 73.8% and a robust DEI strategy backed by data can help The Drake Hotel attract and keep talent.
What The Drake Hotel Has to Say About Diversio
“Best thing to come out of it — getting the metrics”
“We were aligned with Pride, and we’re seeking to be a rainbow hotel, but there are things that aren’t aligned, and it was helpful to learn that in the survey.”
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