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Equity Issues in Hospitality and Tourism (H&T) – Exploring (In)equalities

Media Releases

Mon, 14 Sep 2020
Equity Issues in Hospitality and Tourism (H&T) – Exploring (In)equalities
Hospitality and tourism news

A Professional Development Workshop, which explored equity issues in hospitality and tourism, was held at the prestigious 80th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management 2020.

Very often, work in the hospitality and tourism industry requires little to no formal training, and involves precarious working conditions – such as low wages, long and disagreeable working times, high work pressure and more1. At the same time, the industry attracts mainly young people, migrants, and women. In fact, women represent 60-70 per cent of the global hospitality and tourism workforce2. This employment situation could foster social inequalities across multiple dimensions.

In an effort to raise awareness of the inequalities faced by workers in hospitality and tourism, as well as discuss ways to address the problem, a Professional Development Workshop titled “Equity Issues in Hospitality and Tourism (H&T) – Exploring (In)equalities” was held at the 80th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management 2020. Professor Abhishek Bhati, Campus Dean and Head of Teaching, Learning and Student Engagement at James Cook University in Singapore, along with colleague Dr K. Thirumaran, Academic Head of Business, and Vanessa Bernauer from Helmut Schmidt University, hosted the event.

The Professional Development Workshop was comprised of four sub-topics:

  1. Hospitality and Tourism, and Intersections of Gender and/or Body Related Inequalities; with panellists Professor Renate Ortlieb (University of Graz, Austria) and Dr Anna Schneider (University of Innsbruck, Austria)
  2. Tourism and the Impact of Global Capitalism and Transnational Service Work; with panellist Dr Alexander Trupp (Sunway University, Malaysia)
  3. Luxury Hospitality and Tourism, and Experiences of Inequalities; with panellists Professor Dennis Nickson (University of Strathclyde, UK) and Professor Chris Warhurst (University of Warwick, UK)
  4. Research Methods and Approaches to Inequalities in Hospitality and Tourism; with panellists Professor Jean Helms Mills (Saint Mary's University, Canada) and Professor Albert J. Mills (Saint Mary's University, Canada & University of Eastern Finland)

Lots of ideas and insights were raised, including the notion that the hospitality and tourism sector can empower women and offer employment opportunities while also being exploitative and provide unhealthy working environments.

It was also tough to discuss hospitality and tourism without addressing the elephant in the room – COVID-19. The second sub-topic observed the impact of COVID-19 on transmigrant workers and their social rights in the recent months, as well as the changes required to address these issues.

The subject of inequality in hospitality and tourism was explored further in the third sub-topic, which examined how managers attempt to manage the bodies of workers – whether in taking advantage of sexuality or in discriminating against race, class, disability and age – across the services sector.

What’s more, the fourth and final sub-topic tackled how we may approach and better understand the organisational culture and workplace discrimination that takes place in the Hospitality and Tourism industry – ranging from new software tools in research, to new methods to measure and interpret inequalities in Human Resource deployment in the industry.

Professor Eddy Ng, who was the Professional Development Chair (PDW) of the Gender and Diversity in Organizations (GDO) Academy of Management at the time, said of the event, “Thank you for drawing attention to a vulnerable group of workers – migrants, women, racialized workers, youth – in a precarious industry. Many are temporarily permanently displaced due to a general economic decline.”

Check out Professor Abhishek Bhati’s and Dr K. Thirumaran’s staff and research profiles.

Find out more about our Hospitality and Tourism Management courses.

For further information on areas of research strength in Business and future collaborative opportunities at James Cook University in Singapore, view our booklet here.

Users who have registered for the virtual Annual Meeting or have participated in the Virtual Career Fair may view the recorded sessions of the Professional Development Workshop here (available till 31 October 2020)

1 ILO (International Labour Organization) (2014). Employment in the tourism sector (hotels and restaurants as a proxy). Geneva, Switzerland: Fact Sheet. (September 2020)

2 ILO (International Labour Organization) (2017). Tourism at a glance. Geneva, Switzerland: ILO Fact Sheet. (September 2020)


Academic matters: Professor Abhishek Bhati [email protected]
Media: Pinky Sibal [email protected]