NAACP: Hotels slow to improve treatment

The Associated Press
Tuesday October 10, 2000

BALTIMORE — The nation’s 11 major hotel chains have not kept their promises to improve business opportunities for blacks, the NAACP said Monday in urging people to avoid “underperforming” companies. 

In its fourth annual report card, the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organization gave the chains a grade of C-minus.  

Last year, the NAACP had said the hotel chains improved somewhat. 

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume urged people “to avoid spending dollars in failing or underperforming hotel chains.” 

“Sustained progress has not been as fast as we had hoped, nor has it been as fast as it has been promised,” he said. 

Marriott International earned a B from the NAACP; Cendant Hotels, B-minus; Hilton Hotels Corp., C-plus; and Hyatt Hotels Corp, C-plus.  

The NAACP issued grades below C to four hotel chains: Starwood, C-minus; Radisson Hospitality Worldwide, D-plus; Omni, D-plus; and Wyndham, D. 

Best Western International received a C; Bass Hotels and Resorts Inc. (including Holiday Inn), C; Choice Hotels International (which includes Comfort Inn and Quality Inn), C. 

Last year, no chain got a grade lower than a C. 

When the first survey was conducted in 1997, the NAACP and 55 other black organizations urged a boycott of 10 national hotel chains because of their hiring and promotion practices, and gave several chains an F for not participating in the survey. 

The NAACP bases the grades on the hotels’ hiring practices, charitable donations and advertising.  

Hotels were also graded on whether franchise opportunities are offered to blacks and whether the hotels use black contractors. 

“We are disappointed with the grade and we pledge to do better,” said Fred Stern, a spokesman for Wyndham.  

“We don’t have a question with the survey. We think it is a valuable service that is helpful to the industry as a whole.” 

Stern also said the chain’s grade suffered because the performance bar had been raised by other chains. 

Tom Polski, a spokesman for Carlson Hotels, which includes Radisson Hotels and Resorts, said executives are working in “a major industry initiative” to attract to attract workers – particularly minorities. 

“It’s important to note that our policy is strict adherence to the letter and spirit of equal opportunity and the principles of diversity,” he said. 

Spokesmen for other low-rated chains either were not immediately available or had no comment. 

An executive with Marriott, which is based in Bethesda, Md., acknowledged that the chain still has “more work to do” in this area, though it scored the highest in this report card. 

“We’re pleased with the B, but we’re still striving for an A,” Marriott vice president David Sampson said. 

The NAACP did not grade the Adam’s Mark Hotels chain for the second year running because it and the NAACP are involved in a lawsuit over alleged racial discrimination, NAACP spokeswoman Jean Ross said. 

On the Net: