Five women of different nationalities and cultures standing together
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TORONTO — This year marks the 25th anniversary of Marriott International’s Women’s Leadership Development Initiative – a program aimed at empowering and supporting women across the organization. In celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day theme, Inspire Inclusion, Marriott Hotels of Canada is re-affirming its commitment to a culture of inclusion and diversity, with the goal of inspiring future generations of women to pursue careers in hospitality.

Company efforts to promote a culture of inclusion and diversity include:

  • A new flexibility program, which was created to help women get back into the workplace after the pandemic. The program, Benefit of Balance – Your Work. Your Life, gives associates the opportunity to choose between flexibility of place or time, and includes flexible arrangements for both salaried and hourly staff.
  • A high representation of women on Marriott International’s Worldwide Business Councils in Canada. These councils are collections of general managers and associates from across all hotel brands and business functions in a specific market or region that come together to work on common challenges that they can collectively address for a stronger community impact. Five out of seven Business Councils in Canada are chaired by women.
  • Marriott Canada’s WILL Leadership Development Program for high-performing women associates and the Women Supporting Women Afternoon of Engagement initiative that provides manager and director-level associates from managed and franchised hotels with the opportunity to engage and learn from the experiences of women executives throughout the organization.
  • Marriott’s goal of achieving gender-representation parity for global company leadership. At the end of 2022, 47 per cent of the company’s global executive leadership team were women. In 2023, women represented 29.6 per cent of full-service general managers and 43.7 per cent of on-property managers in Canada.
  • Marriott’s Bridging the Gap multi-faceted owner-incentive program aims to assist historically under-represented ownership groups, including Black, Native American/First Nation, Hispanic/Latino and women owners, in the U.S. and Canada overcome specific obstacles to hotel ownership. At year-end 2022, there were more than 1,800 open diverse and women-owned hotels in the U.S. and Canada, and nearly 940 are in the pipeline.
  • Support for women-owned businesses such as Tom Ranch, a certified minority and women-owned business supplying specialty food items such as dried nuts, fruits and chocolates to Marriott properties across the U.S., Caribbean, Latin America and Canada for the last 30 years. At the end of 2022, global spend for women-owned businesses totalled more than $239 million.

“My husband and I met working in hotels and have both worked in the hospitality industry ever since,” says Lindsay Webster, director of Housekeeping, Delta Hotels Toronto. “We have two children and as they grew, we’ve faced struggles trying to work around schedules for after- school activities, teacher meetings, summer camps and doctor appointments. With the Benefit of Balance program, I can work a four-day week, which enables me to be there for my two now teenagers, drive them across the city for rugby camp and pick them up from drama class. It has helped our family find balance and helps to manage the mental load that many mothers face.”

“As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Marriott International’s 25th anniversary of the Women’s Leadership Development initiative, I reflect on how the company has helped empower me,” says Maria Romero, Sales executive, The Westin Edmonton. “The Benefit of Balance – Your Work. Your Life program has allowed me to balance my life as a Sales executive and a mother of a two-year-old toddler. The flexibility offered by this program has been a game-changer, allowing me to work from home twice a week. This flexibility allows me to strategically manage my work priorities and enables me to spend irreplaceable time with my family. Marriott Canada’s commitment to programs like these truly fosters a culture of inclusivity and diversity, inspiring women like me to thrive in the hospitality industry.” 

“With two young children and a long daily commute, the Benefit of Balance is exactly what I needed to stay in an industry that I love,” says Salima Ladha, director of Sales, JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and the DOUGLAS, Autograph Collection. “Life is busy and very dynamic as a parent as kids grow up through their various stages, and having flexibility around working from home allows me to be more present and mindful for them and their needs. This flexibility also nurtures me to be creative, engaged and productive professionally.”  


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