Hospitality Industry

Conversation with Steven Daines - Chief Talent & Culture Officer, Accor

Produced by

EHL Alliance

The EHL Alliance has created an innovative series of insightful podcasts with Communications Consultant Michael McKay that examine and explore the best of new ideas – giving voice to acknowledged leaders, practitioners and original thinkers - originating from inside the hospitality industry and business sectors close to it.



Steven Daines

Chief Talent & Culture Officer (Global CHRO), Accor


The latest episode of the EHL Alliance podcast features an interview with Steven Daines, the Chief Talent and Culture Officer at Accor. Accor is the largest hospitality company in Europe and the sixth-largest in the world, with over 5,300 locations in more than 110 countries. 

In this podcast, Steven shares insights on managing Accor's diverse portfolio of over 40 brands, the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, and his role in developing talent and culture at Accor. We will delve into the main topics highlighted in the podcast, such as the importance of talent and culture in the hospitality industry, challenges for women to move through middle ranks for top Eechelons in the industry, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry. Let's dive right in!


    The Role of Talent and Culture in the Hospitality Industry

    The hospitality industry is a diverse and dynamic sector that plays a crucial role in the global economy. The industry encompasses many businesses, including hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, and other service-oriented businesses. 

    Talent and culture are two critical components of the hospitality industry that significantly drive success and create a positive customer experience. Here is how talent influences the hospitality industry:

    • Creating a Positive Customer Experience: Talent plays a significant role in creating a positive customer experience. It is the employees who interact with customers and provide them with services. Talented employees can create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, understand the customer's needs, and deliver a personalized experience that exceeds customer expectations.
    • Enhancing Brand Image: Talented employees can enhance the brand image of a hospitality business. They can represent the brand effectively and deliver services aligning with its values and vision. A talented employee can also act as a brand ambassador and promote the business positively.
    • Improving Business Performance: Talented employees can contribute to improving the overall performance of a hospitality business. They can increase customer satisfaction, enhance the quality of services, and improve operational efficiency. A skilled workforce can also increase sales, repeat business, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

    The Role of Culture in the Hospitality Industry

    Culture is another crucial component of the hospitality industry. It defines the values, beliefs, and attitudes of a business and its employees. A positive culture can create a motivated and engaged workforce, leading to improved business performance. The role of culture in the hospitality industry includes:

    • Creating a Positive Work Environment: A positive culture can create a positive work environment that promotes employee satisfaction, motivation, and engagement. 
    • Enhancing Customer Experience: Culture can also impact the customer experience. A positive culture can create a warm and welcoming atmosphere where employees are friendly, helpful, and accommodating. This can enhance the customer experience, increasing customer loyalty and repeat business.
    • Improving Business Performance: Culture can also contribute to improving business performance. A positive culture can lead to a motivated and engaged workforce, increasing operational efficiency, reducing employee turnover, and increasing profits.

    How to Attract and Retain Talent In the Hospitality Industry

    Attracting and retaining talent is crucial for any industry, especially the hospitality industry, where the quality of customer service can make or break a business.

    "The task of talent acquisition and recruitment selection is widely regarded as one of the most challenging responsibilities, owing to the inherent complexity of the human psyche. While individuals are inherently unpredictable and multifaceted, with experience and the help of various tests, interviews can help uncover a candidate's character traits, such as open-mindedness and generosity of heart," explained Steven Daines while highlighting the intricacies of the recruitment process. Here are some strategies for attracting and retaining talented individuals in the hospitality industry:

    1. Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits

    Competitive pay, health benefits, and other perks can attract talented individuals to your business. Additionally, providing opportunities for growth and advancement within the company can entice potential employees." We allow people to grow in their jobs and into management positions…." Said Steven Daines during the interview.

    2. Provide a Positive Work Environment

    Creating a positive work environment that promotes collaboration, creativity, and inclusivity is essential to attracting and retaining talented individuals. This includes providing training, feedback, and recognition for a well-done job.

    3. Foster a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion

    Promoting diversity and inclusion within the workplace can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for employees of all backgrounds. This can attract a diverse pool of talented individuals and create a more positive work environment.

    How Can Women Prepare for Top Leadership Positions?

    Despite the progress made in recent years, women still face significant challenges moving from the middle ranks to the top echelons. Here are some of the significant challenges that women encounter in their quest to move up the ladder: 

    • Gender Bias: Gender bias is one of the most significant barriers that women face in the workplace. Gender bias can manifest in various ways, including unequal pay, stereotypes, and double standards. These biases can prevent women from being considered for promotions or taken seriously as leaders.
    • Lack of Role Models and Mentors: Women often need more role models and mentors in senior leadership positions, making it challenging to envision a career path to top leadership positions. Mentors and role models can guide, advise, and support women, helping them navigate their career paths and overcome obstacles.
    • Limited Access to Networks: Networking is essential for career advancement, but women may have limited access to networks that can help them advance in their careers. Men often dominate senior leadership positions, and male-dominated networks can exclude women.

    How to Overcome These Challenges

    Like many other industries, hospitality has traditionally been male-dominated, and women often face challenges moving to top leadership positions. However, with changing times, there are many ways in which women can challenge these obstacles and rise to the top. Here  is how:

    • Seek Out Mentorship: Finding a mentor already in a top leadership position in the hospitality industry can be beneficial. They can guide, advise, and support in navigating the industry and help identify growth opportunities.
    • Build Strong Networks: Networking is essential in the hospitality industry. Women can attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with others to build strong networks that provide access to opportunities and connections.
    • Pursue Relevant Education: Education is important in any industry, and the hospitality industry is no exception. Women can pursue relevant education, such as a degree in hospitality management, or take courses to develop leadership, management, and finance skills.

    Accor has made significant progress in promoting women to leadership positions. Women represent 39% of the company's leadership. "I am pleased to report that 39% of our top leaders are women today. Our objective through the years is to reach 50%," said Steven Daines. 

    Impact of Covid19 on Talent Acquisition and Management

    The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted talent acquisition and management in the hospitality industry, as in many other sectors. Here are some ways in which the pandemic has affected these areas:

    • Recruitment Challenges: Many hospitality businesses have had to put recruitment on hold or reduce hiring due to the uncertainty and financial impact of the pandemic. This has made it challenging to attract and acquire top talent.
    • Remote Work: The pandemic has significantly increased remote work, impacting how companies approach talent management. Employers have had to adapt to managing and developing talent in a virtual environment, which has required new tools, technologies, and communication strategies.
    • Changes in Skillsets: The pandemic has also changed the skills required for specific roles, as businesses have had to adapt to new regulations and safety protocols. For example, employees in the hospitality industry have had to learn fresh cleaning and sanitation procedures.
    • Employee Retention: With the pandemic causing financial uncertainty and job insecurity, many seek more stable work environments. Employers have had to focus on retaining their current employees by offering benefits such as job security, flexibility, and growth opportunities.

    Final Thoughts

    Talent and culture play a critical role in the hospitality industry, and Steven Daines' interview on the EHL Alliance podcast provides valuable insights into managing a diverse portfolio of brands, attracting and retaining talent, and the impact of COVID-19 on the industry. Talent is essential in creating a positive customer experience, enhancing brand image, and improving business performance. 

    To attract and retain talented individuals in the hospitality industry, businesses should offer competitive compensation and benefits, provide a positive work environment, utilize technology, and foster a culture of diversity and inclusion. 

    Women can challenge the obstacles to moving to top leadership positions in the hospitality industry by seeking mentorship, building strong networks, pursuing relevant education, building relevant experience, being confident and assertive, and advocating for change.

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