Marriott International: How Employers Can Build A More Hopeful World

Originally published on LinkedIn by David Rodriguez, Executive Vice President & Global Chief HR Officer at Marriott.


The horrific episode in Washington D.C. last week was stunning in that it could occur today in the most successful republic in history and saddening in once again showing us how fragmented and fragile we remain as a society. It was important that courageous, civic-minded leaders like Arne Sorenson, Marriott International (No. 1 on 2020 Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) President and CEO spoke out to remind us that together we can overcome any obstacle in our path and fill the void left by others who have betrayed their solemn vows to serve the people.

I join these leaders in seeing a bright future for our country. It requires that everyone do their part and accept mutual accountability to each other.  A peaceful and inclusive society is not achieved by taking comfort in setting long-term goals, while requesting patience from those left behind. Rather, it is a daily commitment to a more inclusive and equitable world for and by all.

Employers have a significant responsibility and opportunity to fill the void:

  • The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that people trust “my employer” significantly more than NGOs, business, government and media. In the 2020 Barometer, business continued to rank significantly higher in competence than government.
  • Nearly 80% of employees strongly believe that their employer should be responsible for helping them become “Net Better Off” in life. The research also shows that a holistic commitment to employee wellbeing is a significant driver of future business performance.

Every day, millions of people bring the concerns of the external world and their personal circumstances into the workplace. Many organizations have employment policies and practices that are understandably business-centered and designed to mitigate the potential negative effects on productivity. This includes the quest for what they may consider the ideal best talent, i.e., productive humans without human frailties. By that ethos, helping employees lead better lives is not a primary concern. This is disastrous thinking and a complete disconnect with what the world needs now.

A frequent catchphrase in the business world is “to have the most talented workforce.” However, more than ever employers need to embrace the ideal of generating a workforce that is both talented AND inspiredRather than thinking of themselves as customers looking for talent from society, employers should seize the role to be builders and exporters of people to society who are inspired and better able to lead productive and meaningful lives. This means, for example, ensuring that people experience inclusion and equity in the workplace so that they can bring the pertinent mindset and capabilities to their community.

While government and other institutions have important partnership roles to play, employers are uniquely positioned to propel human wellbeing and, in the process, build a more inclusive and hopeful world.


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