Hospitality can be the Social Force

The hospitality industry can play a bigger and more central role in society – whether driving, motivating or bringing a group together, the industry can play the lead role for social action and social change.

The industry is already a major force in society for the simple reason that it employs a high number of people. It is activity involved and plays an increasingly important role in the economy. How many industries can really lay claim to such an important role?

Society has changed. Communities yearn for the strong social pillars of the past. The Hotel Manager used to be one of the central pillars in society along with the bank manager, the GP and the solicitor. Times have changed – the bank manager has changed in character and the GP is under pressure so that leaves hospitality managers to play the central role in social life.

At the same time the market has changed and communication has become harder. Today business must have a strong and clear message, be personal and focus on both excellence and change. They must also possess a social consciousness which is what the market and often workforce desires.

The counter argument to this is that businesses exist to make money and build wealth. Quite right but they still have an important role to play in society.

It’s fair to say all the major players invest in local charities and communities but do they really invest in talented people of all ages and backgrounds? Whilst there are generational differences, the feeling is that change is coming in one way or another and the Hospitality industry can play an important part in this social change.

Far from being a second rate industry, Hospitality is a genuine and leading organisation on so many levels. But the real question now is will it use its influence and what can we do to help enable this?

A new social consciousness?

This year (2017) has thrown up surprises and contradictions. A common argument is that Theresa May, in many ways, actually lost the General Election with Jeremy Corbyn gaining support through his comparison to a modern day “Dumbledore” character and demonstrating a new idealism.

There is also an argument that many are tired, not just of austerity, but of the perceived unfairness that is taking place. One can see a frustration over the basics – the lack of humility of bankers in the City, speedy boarding and security at airports, Director’s bonuses, food inflation, indirect tax and most especially University fees.

Michael J. Sandel, the well-known political professor from Harvard University, put forward the argument that the world today is facing two questions:

  • How do we deal with the growing gap between the rich and poor?
  • What role should money and market play in society?

There is a belief that the focus on money has become too dominant and that a greater balance needs to be found.

Whatever the truth about the politics, there is a real sense of unease on the legacy being left by the baby boom generation. The poverty and social injustice of today is far better than it was in the 1970s and 80s. However perhaps there is a desire for change. The Baby Boomers are often cited as a success story, where new leaders broke through. They grew up in an age that was not so fortunate and want to ensure that they are laying the ground for future wealth and success – not that they are the generation that stole from the future as some may perceive.

There is a need to look bigger and to invest back now so that a real legacy is left. There is a momentum in the social conscience that is developing and the odds are that the voices will only get louder and businesses will be expected to be leaders in society as well as in business.

This it is no different to the old days when the pillars of society were the bank manager, solicitor, doctor, teacher and businessman. It will be the same again but the Hospitality Industry can be the key social force

The emerging generations have a strong vision of a community feel that want to tackle global issues. The feeling is that change is coming in one way or another and the Hospitality industry can play an important part in this social change.

How EP can support

Great leadership is about the values of the leader and cannot just be about profit generation. Importantly, it also needs to be about leadership in the community and the talent within. If we had found the right balance to date there would be far fewer debates over whether the industry is good enough at developing talent.

EP is the leading communicator on business thinking and opinion in the Hospitality Industry and possesses an expert team that can bring experience and expert support to individuals and companies. Through marketing and communication EP can support businesses who can see the benefit from looking at the bigger picture and becoming a social force for good.

For more information: Ben.Butler@epmagazine.co.uk

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