Howard University Diversifying C-Suites in Hospitality Through Endowment From The Marriott Foundation

Howard University Diversifying C-Suites in Hospitality Through Endowment From The Marriott Foundation

A $20 million endowment has been granted to help diversify the senior levels of the hospitality industry.

Howard University, a notable Historically Black College and University (HBCU), was presented with an endowment from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation (The Marriott Foundation) to create the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership in the School of Business.

The center was established in honor of Marriott International’s beloved president and CEO, Arne Sorenson, who died in 2021 from pancreatic cancer. Aiming to diversify and drive greater inclusion to the C-suite levels of the hospitality industry, the center’s mission is to provide students with necessary leadership skills and experiential opportunities.

“I can think of no better tribute to the amazing legacy of Arne Sorenson than to focus on educating and advancing future leaders of the hospitality industry,” said J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., executive chairman and chairman of the board, Marriott International.

“Our industry needs a pipeline of diverse leadership talent and that’s exactly what this Center will achieve,” he added.

According to Howard University, the leadership program focuses on “traditional and experiential learning opportunities.”

“The need for U.S. C-suites to be more diverse is urgent and necessary, and we are in the position to help hold the industry accountable,” said Dr. Anthony D. Wilbon, dean of the Howard University School of Business.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) firm was selected to help blueprint the pipeline, using business, experience, and technology (BXT) co-creation and collaboration techniques. PwC worked with Howard University and The Marriott Foundation to host over 85 hospitality industry C-suite executives and entrepreneurs during a virtual design workshop. Attendees addressed Black history related to the industry through discussions on how to effect change in executive suite diversity.

“The gathering of some of the industry’s ‘who’s who’ was a response to Arne’s call but also a recognition that Howard University was in a great position to hold the hospitality industry accountable on inclusion and diversity,” said PwC Partner, Lawrence Ballard, told AfroTech.

A report by Castell Project on Black Representation in Hospitality Leadership found that Black employees represent 13.6% of hospitality industry employment. However, they currently hold less than 2% of executive leadership positions.