To coincide with World Pride 2023, taking place in Sydney from February 17 – March 5, HM’s Pride at Work series is celebrating LGBTQIA+ workers in the hotel industry and shining a spotlight on inclusivity in both the employee and guest experience.
Here, Pullman Sydney Hyde Park Director of Rooms, Brian Hansen, shares his views on inclusive leadership and the importance of calling out inappropriate behaviour.
Do you think the accommodation industry in general is inclusive and accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community?
In general, yes. Our community brings flair and personality that fits so well within the hospitality industry.
I believe it all stems from the top, so if you’ve got a great leader who is supportive and an ally, you have a great business that is inclusive, which you want to be involved in.
A key element in running a hotel is the ability to provide a safe and welcoming environment for our guests, and that can’t be achieved unless the team feel safe themselves.
Are there any ways you think the industry can improve in terms of being more welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQIA+ employees and/or guests?
We’re seeing more and more happening these days, more than ever before. The introduction of pronouns in email signatures and on business cards for example is growing and it’s a wonderful way to allow someone the opportunity to share theirs with you.
This may not seem like a big deal, but for someone who is They/Them, it encourages them to feel confident when they respond with the correct term.
And more bluntly, I think the industry can improve by doing an audit of who they have in their businesses.
This industry needs people who care for others regardless of gender.
Have you ever experienced homophobia while doing your job?
Yes and no. I’ve been in the workforce for some time now across multiple areas of the hospitality industry (clubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, night clubs, and hotels).
I have not gone home after a day at work and thought, “My workplace is homophobic”, more I have experienced and witnessed comments and jokes that were inappropriate .
I see it more as an education piece over malice intent though and I’ve pulled people up for it when it’s needed.
Do you feel like you can bring your whole self to work?
Absolutely, every day! It’s what we’re encouraged to do during our interview stages, the induction periods, and every day as we walk through the doors.
We foster a principle here at Accor that is “We hired you for you, there is no one better, so be you, and be you to the fullest”.
How does your workplace make you feel valued and supported?
I have the opportunity to talk and to express myself and to be heard – and that’s how I feel valued. We have incredible leaders in this industry who care what other’s think and I find that is the reason I’ve been in the industry for 15 years.
My workplace and the environment I have been immersed in encourages and supports individuality and quirkiness and love and actually helped with me coming to terms with my identity. It’s allowed me to be myself and has helped me walk tall, looking forward and not down.
Are there any ways that you support other, perhaps younger, members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the industry/your workplace?
I think I do this by just being myself, and I know that sounds corny, but by celebrating the queerness that comes with my identity I think sets the precedent for others that it is OK to be gay, especially in an industry where we have the opportunity to showcase who we are.
Since the “coming to acceptance” moment in my life, I’ve always called out behaviour that doesn’t belong in the environment I choose to surround myself in, regardless of who it is from. I think the professional position I hold grants me the luxury to be able to teach and shape more inclusive conditions for others, and I really hope I do just that.
How will you be celebrating World Pride 2023 in your workplace?
Sydney Worldpride has been talked about here at Pullman Sydney Hyde Park since it was announced. There is so much hype here as we gear up for Sydney’s biggest event and the ideas have been free flowing.
Pullman Sydney Hyde Park has always been supportive of everything “rainbow” given our proximity to Oxford St and this year we’ve really gone all out with an event being held on Mardi Gras Parade night that involves DJ’s, live acts, and drag performances.
We’ve also put up a massive Pride Rainbow down the front side of the building and I’m amazed by the amount of effort the team have put into achieving this, and they have done so without labelling or branding it. The idea behind our rainbow building is to show support to our community in which we work and live and not to advertise an agenda. We have received such incredible feedback from our locals, and I could not be prouder to work here.