Diversity & Inclusion
Resort CEO apologizes after telling female conference attendees to clean rooms, do dishes
The CEO of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in British Columbia has apologized after making “insensitive and inappropriate comments” at an industry conference.
According to the CBC, Vivek Sharma asked female attendees at the B.C. Tourism and Hospitality Conference earlier this month to stand in honour of International Women’s Day.
Then, following a round of applause, he allegedly told them to “go clean some rooms and do some dishes.”
An Industry Update email from the British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) contained an apology from Sharma.
“Not only did my words cause distress for several women in the audience but I also offended many other delegates,” he said.
He noted that his comments do not reflect the views of the Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC) or the BCHA, “both of whom have worked hard to advocate for the tenets of equality, inclusion and diversity in our sector.”
Resigning from boards
After what Sharma called “sobering reflection” he announced he was resigning from the boards of both TIABC and BCHA, effective immediately.
“This decision is not made to hide from my major mistake or leave the industry that I truly love,” he said.
“But rather to see how, through my remorse, I can use this opportunity to learn and to contribute to making the tourism and hospitality sector a safer place and one that advances the values of equality and opportunity for women, youth, Indigenous peoples, immigrants, people with disabilities and other underrepresented groups in our society.”
He said industry leaders, like him, have the opportunity to make amends – “given the chance.”
Reaction from associations
Bryan Pilbeam, chair of the BCHA, and JJ Belanger, chair of TIABC, issued a joint message in response to Sharma’s statement.
In it, they say the board of directors for both associations have taken “decisive action that includes wholeheartedly committing to additional steps to elevate and empower women in tourism and hospitality.” Details will be communicated in the coming months.
“Importantly, the past few days have sparked important conversations that have forced us to confront the responsibility we each hold in creating a fair and equitable industry, free of bias” they said.
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