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Hyatt UK & Ireland "Celebrate our Sisters" and launch HyVersity, as Part of Black History Month

“Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is an act.” – Lorraine Copes, founder and CEO, Be Inclusive Hospitality, explained to the audience at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill.

The crowd at the HyVersity workshop organized by Hyatt UK & Ireland
The crowd at the HyVersity workshop organized by Hyatt UK & Ireland featured Lorraine Copes

Hyatt UK & Ireland is championing and celebrating diversity in their teams with a new chapter: HyVersity. The chapter officially kicked-off last month and subsequently co-organised its first event in celebration of Black History Month here in the UK, with a highly educational and engaging talk by Lorraine Copes, founder and CEO, Be Inclusive Hospitality, which dovetails nicely with the Women@Hyatt chapter, which focuses on gender equality, as the theme for Black History Month is “Celebrating Our Sisters.”

Before the session began, we asked the HyVersity’s Chair, Jeanne Aikman, Human Resources Director at Andaz London Liverpool Street–a Concept by Hyatt, why this initiative is so important.

“Our vision is to create an environment where all cultures can have a seat at the table...whilst connecting to educate, raise awareness and create an inclusive environment. We have on average around 35 nationalities in each of our properties in the UK with some Hotels having as much as 54 nationalities in one building. As we celebrate Black History month we just knew that Lorraine would be able to deliver this workshop and help convey the right message amongst our team.”

From L to R: Melissa Brette Ogee, Gabrielle Hutchinson, Jeanne Aikman all from the Hyatt UK & Ireland team with Lorraine Copes, founder & CEO, Be Inclusive Hospitality
From L to R: Melissa Brette Ogee, Gabrielle Hutchinson, Jeanne Aikman all from the Hyatt UK & Ireland team with Lorraine Copes, founder & CEO, Be Inclusive Hospitality

Understanding Race Through a Black History Month Lens

A bit of background on Be Inclusive Hospitality, a social enterprise that Lorraine Copes founded in 2020, with the mission to impact and accelerate change for hospitality to be fairer and more inclusive. Inspired by her own career in the hospitality sector where she rarely saw another person of color in leadership, Lorraine wanted to be a catalyst for change. She noted that “while Be Inclusive Hospitality started off the back of a problem, since then, working on the mission has been a total joy.”

Why We Celebrate Black History Month

In the UK, Black History Month happens every October. It gives everyone the opportunity to share, celebrate and understand the impact of black heritage and culture. People from African and Caribbean backgrounds have been a fundamental part of British history for centuries. However, their contribution to society has often been overlooked or distorted. And while there is still much inequality, commemorating these achievements helps influence the present.

The "HyVersity" team at Hyatt UK & Ireland
The "HyVersity" team at Hyatt UK & Ireland

The Importance of Having Cultural Events at Work

Hyatt UK & Ireland recognise the importance to open conversations and challenge perceptions and biases around us. The format of the workshop made time for an interactive quiz about Black women in Business in general and in our industry too. Colleagues all agreed that the current statistics are an eye-opener and that raising awareness is crucial to build a more inclusive and equitable workplace and industry.

'There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives' –– Audre Lorde

Inclusion can only come to life if we embrace its intersectionality. This year’s theme, Celebrating our Sisters, was the perfect opportunity to broach the topics of gender and race with a joint event between HyVersity and Women@Hyatt.

Being part of Hyatt means always having space to be you and our company purpose is to care for people so they can be their best. Being your best also means being your authentic self in each moment, and therefore we want to continue being curious and brave and celebrating each other’s uniqueness.

Hyatt UK & Ireland

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