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Disability Inclusion in the Hospitality Industry Makes Business Sense
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The importance of having an inclusive workplace and offering competitive job opportunities to people with disabilities is not just a legal or social responsibility for employers. It is a strategy that makes business sense and offers many advantages, especially for the hospitality industry:

1. Diverse Customer Base:

The hospitality industry serves travellers from all over the world. The diversity of cultures implies a diversity of customer expectations as well. The hotels with a diverse workforce to cater to such a wide customer base hold a strong competitive advantage over others.

A study conducted in the US quantifies the money spent by North American adult travellers with disabilities as $17.3 billion annually, a sharp increase from $13.6 billion spent in 2002[1]. To cater to this segment of the market, it is crucial to have accessible properties and facilities. It is also important to have employees that understand the needs and requirements of the customers and provide key insights into making properties progressively accessible is also a crucial element of the overall business strategy.

2. Imminent Labour Shortages

By 2025, demand for tourism workers in Toronto is expected to increase by 45%. It is also estimated that by 2030, shortages in the tourism sector in Canada could grow to 228,000 jobs, leaving 10.7 % of potential labour demand unfilled[2].

The unemployment rate in Canada of people aged 25 to 64 with disabilities on the other hand is 11%, compared with 6% for people who did not report having a disability[3]. Utilizing the capabilities of this segment of the population to fulfill the labour shortages is a huge opportunity for the hospitality industry.

3. Impact on the Bottom Line

Managing and reducing turnover can significantly benefit a hotel’s bottom line. Losing employees is bad for business, resulting not only in lost revenues but also increased expenditures on hiring and training. Intangible costs such as loss of productivity significantly add up to the overall costs. Although it is hard to measure loss of productivity in numbers and it varies for different positions, a study conducted in full-service hotels in New York and Miami found that the lost productivity from turnover of front office associates ranged from 55% to 69% of the total cost of turnover.

Research findings indicate that employees with disabilities working in the hospitality sector stay on the job longer than employees without disabilities (50.12 months longer in the quoted research’s parameters). Moreover across various sectors including hospitality, participants with disabilities reported fewer scheduled absences than those without disabilities[4].

4. Equal Opportunities for Good Performers

In a study conducted, research participants with and without disabilities were found to have identical job performance ratings, regardless of the industry.[5] Two other studies conducted state that 90% of people with disabilities performed comparably well or even better at their jobs than other co-workers.[6] Moreover, supervisors or managers who work with diverse teams also do not find it harder to supervise employees with disabilities in comparison to other employees.[7]

Any employee may perform well when he/she has been provided with the necessary tools and given a positive work environment to deliver the expected outcomes. The same premise applies to all employees, with or without disabilities and reflects the strategic approach of the management.

5. Sector-Focused Training Partnerships

Hospitality Workers Training Centre specializes in hospitality training for new entrants. People in receipt of ODSP are eligible for all of our courses. The success of our program, however, is not only linked not to the number of people we train, but also the number of our trainees who are able to find, retain and succeed in jobs in the hospitality industry of Toronto. We ensure that our trainees are employment ready and fully skilled and closely work with our industry partners in Toronto to place them at properties that are inclusive and realize the potential of this segment of the labour force.

Such sector-based partnerships can go a long way in making the industry not just inclusive but also more competitive.

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