The terms diversity, equity, and inclusion are intertwined. As workplaces, communities, and society work to build justice, fairness, and equality into their environments, these three words represent opportunities to embrace new ways of inviting people in, capitalizing on their unique perspectives, and encouraging productive collaboration.


Diversity of people

Diverse is an adjective that describes something with a great deal of variety. A diverse workforce is one that includes people from different social, cultural, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, economic, religious, and racial backgrounds.

Diversity extends beyond representation to include diversity in age, generation, thought, beliefs, experiences, education, family structure, upbringing, perspective, and personality. Diversity includes all the factors that contribute to someone’s identity. People who thrive in diverse environments can recognize, appreciate, and welcome experiences with others without bias or preconceived expectations.

The hospitality industry represents an ideal opportunity for supporting a diverse environment as hotels welcome team members and guests from around the world.


Equality versus Equity

“Equity vs Equality” flickr photo by MN Pollution Control Agency shared under a Creative
Commons (BY-NC) license.

When something is equitable, it is fair to all parties. Equality occurs when an individual or group is extended the same opportunities, resources, and options.

Equity refers to providing everyone on the team with the necessary resources to contribute, benefit, and thrive at the same level as others.

Resources may vary for different people. Specific needs could depend, in part, on the person’s upbringing, economic situation, language barrier, and height, among others.

The goal is by remove obstacles to even out opportunities and outcomes, creating a welcoming environment that ensures everyone has the same chance for success.

Simple examples for hotel companies to implement include providing associates with adjustable chairs and offering them access to benefits seminars in several languages.


InclusionInclusion refers to the behaviors demonstrated to build equity in the system after a diverse group has been assembled. Inclusion means there are practices and policies in place to help people access the specific resources they need to be involved in the group. It is about including them in meaningful exercises and embracing their contributions.

Inclusion begins with inviting diverse individuals into membership in the team, group, or community, and continues as these newcomers are given the help they need to be fully functioning, respected members.

For example, Atrium Hospitality is enthusiastic about preparing the disabled youth of the communities in which we operate to be successful by helping them gain the skills to be able to secure competitive employment in an integrated setting. As one of the nation’s largest hotel operators, Atrium is proud to partner with Project SEARCH, which provides employment and educational opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Over the years, hundreds of Project SEARCH student interns have participated in hosted programs at Atrium-managed hotels across the United States, and many Project SEARCH graduates have been hired by our hotels. In addition, to support our company’s core values of Inclusion and Respect, Atrium maintains a Diversity and Inclusion Committee comprised of associates from among our company’s more than 80 hotels across 28 states, representing well-known brands such as Hilton, Marriott, IHG, and Wyndham, among others.

Theory → Practice

While diversity is supporting the presence of people who differ in many ways, equity and inclusion address fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all. Removing obstacles and regularly evaluating policies to ensure fairness are essential. Understanding root causes of outcome disparities is part of the process. Creating a culture that welcomes people and their many differences; finding ways to communicate and work together respectfully and with integrity; and fostering understanding of diverse ideas, perspectives, and values support a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative.

In summary, diversity is who we are, equity is what empowers all, and inclusion is how we embrace and engage each person. Hospitality leaders have the responsibility to create a space conducive for the three elements to coexist and to encourage DEI as an important part of the overall organizational strategy. When in harmony, the three elements can create a rich and productive environment that creatively solves problems, welcomes change, and nurtures a deep sense of belonging. People who belong tend to pour their hearts into their work, creating productive workplaces. From talent recruitment and retention, the objective is hiring with intention, then providing individualized resources for everyone to participate and feel their contributions are valued, which builds a culture where passionate individuals can thrive.

About the Author

Gissell MorontaGissell Moronta is the Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing for Atrium Hospitality where she leads the sales organization’s strategic and tactical initiatives and help the sales team focus on optimizing financial results.  She has served in area and regional roles leading teams to Gold and Platinum award winning performance over two decades and created the first centralized inbound RFP team for Starwood Hotels, which she took from a pilot into a multimillion-dollar inbound operation. She held positions of Area, Regional and VP of Sales, Sales & Marketing for TPG and Colwen Hotels where she led the sales function for the company. Gissell is an active member in the industry, serving on the Sales Advisory Board at HSMAI. In 2020, she was named HSMAI Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales, Marketing and Revenue Optimization.  Gissell also serves in the Diversity and Inclusion Collective resource group at Atrium Hospitality and is the recipient of the Inclusion Champion award in 2022. Gissell holds a bachelor’s degree in Hotel Business Administration from Dominican Republic (PUCMM), meeting management certification (CMP), Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) certification from Northwestern University, and a master’s degree in Liberal Arts from Harvard University.