USA: Hotel Chains Rate Poorly on Diversity and Promotion Practices, Says NAACP

Publisher Name: 
Associated Press

BALTIMORE -- The nation's 11 major hotel chains have not kept their
promises to improve business opportunities for blacks, the NAACP said
Monday in urging people to avoid ''underperforming'' companies.

In its fourth annual report card, the nation's largest and oldest civil
rights organization gave the chains a grade of C-minus. Last year, the
NAACP had said the hotel chains improved somewhat.

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume urged people ''to avoid spending dollars in
failing or underperforming hotel chains.''

''Sustained progress has not been as fast as we had hoped, nor has it been
as fast as it has been promised,'' he said.

Marriott International earned a B from the NAACP; Cendant Hotels, B-minus;
Hilton Hotels Corp., C-plus; and Hyatt Hotels Corp, C-plus. The NAACP
issued grades below C to four hotel chains: Starwood, C-minus; Radisson
Hospitality Worldwide, D-plus; Omni, D-plus; and Wyndham, D.

Best Western International received a C; Bass Hotels and Resorts Inc.
(including Holiday Inn), C; Choice Hotels International (which includes
Comfort Inn and Quality Inn), C.

Last year, no chain got a grade lower than a C.

When the first survey was conducted in 1997, the NAACP and 55 other black
organizations urged a boycott of 10 national hotel chains because of their
hiring and promotion practices, and gave several chains an F for not
participating in the survey.

The NAACP bases the grades on the hotels' hiring practices, charitable
donations and advertising. Hotels were also graded on whether franchise
opportunities are offered to blacks and whether the hotels use black
contractors.

''We are disappointed with the grade and we pledge to do better,'' said
Fred Stern, a spokesman for Wyndham. ''We don't have a question with the
survey. We think it is a valuable service that is helpful to the industry
as a whole.''

Stern also said the chain's grade suffered because the performance bar had
been raised by other chains.

Tom Polski, a spokesman for Carlson Hotels, which includes Radisson Hotels
and Resorts, said executives are working in ''a major industry initiative''
to attract to attract workers -- particularly minorities.

''It's important to note that our policy is strict adherence to the letter
and spirit of equal opportunity and the principles of diversity,'' he said.
Spokesmen for other low-rated chains either were not immediately available
or had no comment.

An executive with Marriott, which is based in Bethesda, Md., acknowledged
that the chain still has ''more work to do'' in this area, though it scored
the highest in this report card.

''We're pleased with the B, but we're still striving for an A,'' Marriott
vice president David Sampson said.

The NAACP did not grade the Adam's Mark Hotels chain for a second
consecutive year because both were involved in a lawsuit over alleged
racial discrimination, NAACP spokeswoman Jean Ross said.

The chain was accused of discriminating against blacks, prompting the
NAACP to call for a boycott. In a March settlement, the chain admitted no
wrongdoing but approved diversity training for all employees. On
the Net: http://www.naacp.org

AMP Section Name:CorpWatch