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Making a Difference: STHM Hosts Diversity and Inclusion Conference

By: Courtney Kubitza
First Published: April 10, 2019
Topics: STHM School

Diversity in an organization opens up the workplace to a greater range of talent, innovative ideas and increased engagement with employees and customers. Research has shown that companies that invest in diversity and inclusion programs thrive culturally and financially. Yet, the lack of gender, ethnic and racial diversity still impacts many organizations, including those in the sport, tourism and hospitality industries.

This year, Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) in partnership with PHL Diversity a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and Lodging Media, hosted the 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Conference in Philadelphia. The conference provided corporate and academic leaders the opportunity to  unite and exchange best practices for incorporating diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The two-day conference brought together over 300 attendees and 50 guest speakers to discuss diversity and inclusion through 15 educational sessions.

The conference kicked off on March 25 with an exclusive City Mayors Roundtable on “Diverse and Welcoming Cities” and Academic Think Tank. The Academic Think Tank led by Dr. Debra Blair, associate professor at STHM, brought together over 100 corporate and academic leaders to explore best practices for incorporating diversity and inclusion content into academic programs and curricula. Objectives included sharing program strategies that provide comprehensive, quality experiences for students of color, as well as the impact of diversity and inclusion on faculty recruitment and retention.

“The sport, tourism and hospitality industries are looking for students who can think in terms of diversity and inclusion, who are looking to incorporate them into everyday business practices, “ said Dr. Jeremy Jordan, associate dean of STHM. “We know that business leaders are looking for those qualities in graduates and prospective employees. The Think Tank is one method we are exploring to better develop the skills our students require to meet the needs of the industry. We are examining everything that was discussed during the conference and finding ways to improve our programs.”

The opening night included an Award Dinner hosted by Jonathan Lovitz, senior vice president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), featured welcome remarks from Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and an armchair interview between Julie Coker Graham, president and CEO of Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and David Cohen, senior executive vice president and the chief diversity officer at Comcast Corporation.

The second day of the conference kicked off as a lively crowd gathered at breakfast to hear insights and trends from the Diversity and Inclusion in Meeting Planning research study, conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Barber, associate professor and executive director for business development and partnerships at STHM. . The study provided insights into the meeting and event planners’ sensitivity to diversity and inclusion policies, programs and practices in the meeting planning process.

Other highlights from the conference include thought-provoking panel discussions in healthcare, technology, supplier diversity, education, travel and hospitality. The discussions were led by today’s leaders, such as Justin Nelson, co-founder and president, NGLCC; Ed McNeill, Lodging Media; Glady Lopez, senior manager, Hilton; Yasmine Mustafa, CEO, Roar For Good; and Hitesh Patel, chairman, Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA).

Proceeds from the conference and dinner created a diversity and inclusion-focused scholarship for students at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management. 


View the photo gallery from the 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Conference.