This article aims to provide a fair comparison of the number of Black executives in the industry. The cruise industry is one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet, with an average of more than 14 million passengers embarking on a cruise every year. This translates to more than $39 billion in annual revenue, which is a major factor in the industry’s success.
This article will be about the overall number of executives in the cruise industry. It will compare the number of executives in the cruise industry by race, gender and citizenship status. By doing this, the author will highlight the differences between the executives in the cruise industry.
Black executives may be less well represented in the cruise industry than in other industries. In fact, there are a mere five black executives who oversee more than $1 million in revenue in the United States and Canada, according to a new Cruise Industry Diversity and Inclusion Report. Also of note, black executives make up a relatively low percentage of the global cruise industry, which is dominated by white executives.
The redefinition of race that followed George Floyd’s assassination in 2023 not only drew attention to the struggle of black Americans against discriminatory treatment, but also drew attention to the promotional opportunities (or lack thereof) of black professionals in sectors such as tourism.
In particular, a national analysis found that despite the large amounts of money black Americans spend on vacations, the professionals who sell and market vacations to black travelers are predominantly white.
According to last year’s Mandala Research/MMGY Global report, black travelers will spend $109.4 billion on travel in 2019. However, the representation of blacks in leadership positions in the tourism industry remains low and is even lower than the percentage of black Americans in the U.S. population (13.4% according to U.S. Census data).
The percentage of blacks in the ranks of hospitality industry executives will actually decline between 2019 and 2023, according to The Castell Project Inc, a nonprofit that advocates for the career development of hospitality professionals.
In 2023, only 11% of the 801 business hotel websites surveyed by Castell reported having black executives (from director to CEO), down from 16% of the 630 business websites in 2019. In addition, one in 5.7 workers in the sector was black, compared to one in 49 VPs and one in 58 EVP/SVPs at the end of 2023.
Furthermore, by 2023, only 1.6% of hotel industry executives from the director to general manager level will be black. This is 10.9 times lower than their employment rate of 17.5 percent in the hospitality sector and indicates that promotions for black workers in this sector are not equitable, according to the Castell report.
Is everyone on board?
In recent years, cruise lines have begun to appoint black professionals to middle and senior management positions. The largest company in the cruise industry, Carnival Corporation & plc, is led by a black CEO, Arnold Donald.
PHOTO: Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp. (Photo courtesy of Carnival)
Former Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford was appointed executive chairman of luxury cruise line Azamara Cruises earlier this year. Other companies in the industry, including Royal Caribbean Intl.’s Celebrity Cruises brand and river cruise line AmaWaterways, currently have mid-level black managers.
Yet the overall number remains low, and industry veterans also doubt that a renewed focus on black professional equality will create more opportunities for mid- and senior-level professionals.
I think the cruise lines are doing a good job of recruiting blacks into middle and lower-level positions, said Denella Ri’chard, a former Holland America Line marketer, senior marketer and travel consultant who now hosts Travel with Denella Ri’chard, a CJC Network television show about travel.
[Cruise lines] need to get rid of the excuse that they can’t find black talent at the senior and executive levels. – Denella Ri’chard.
However, she noted that cruise and travel companies need to do more to increase the representation of blacks at higher levels.
With cruise lines hiring again, I think they need to make a focused effort to recruit black professionals at the executive and senior management (C-suite) level, Ri’Chard says. They need to get rid of the excuse that they can’t find black talent at the senior and executive levels.
Ri’chard fears that the pandemic has forced cruise lines to abandon the progress made in recent years in recruiting black professionals for leadership positions on cruise lines.
In the summer of 2023, we faced the disappearance of black executives in the cruise industry due to COVID-19, she said. Although cruise lines are making efforts to recruit black professionals at the middle management level, little progress has been made at the executive and senior management levels.
In various forums over the past year, black travel professionals have argued that while the emphasis is on overtly racial hiring and promotion scenarios, the segregated nature of American society also affects career advancement.
According to recent data, up to 75 percent of white Americans have an all-white presence on social media, compared to less than two-thirds of black Americans.
Research also shows that 70% of jobs are not advertised and up to 80% are filled through personal or professional connections or networks. These factors put black professionals at a clear disadvantage in terms of access to pathways and guidance leading to managerial positions in the tourism sector.
Before COVID-19, the cruise industry employed some of the best black professionals and executives in America. Where are they now? Ri’chard asked. High and leadership positions formerly held by blacks have been taken by new non-blacks.
Implications for the future
Travel companies may be faced with the need to attract black talent to leadership roles, not only to reflect their customer base, but also to have an increasing impact on profit potential. According to the Census, black and multiracial people will make up the majority of Americans in the coming years.
Census Bureau Demographic Turning Points of the United States: Population Projections for 2023 to 2060 indicates that the non-Hispanic white population of the United States will decline from 199 million in 2023 to 179 million in 2060, even as the total population increases.
By 2045, non-Hispanic whites will no longer make up the majority of the U.S. population. Blacks make up about 13% of the total population; by 2060 they will make up 15%, a 41% increase. Multiracial Americans will be the fastest growing group.
To ensure their continued success, cruise and travel companies must effectively promote their services to people of color. Black travel consultants are making a concerted effort to sell brands where people who look like them hold leadership positions, Ri’Chard said.
The question is, to what extent will cruise and travel organizations follow suit?We’ve all heard the statistics that men dominate the industry. They account for nearly all of the estimated 25,000 jobs and 60% of the salaries within the industry, and there are no women executives in a major roles. According to a report by Cruise Critic, executive jobs include: President or CEO, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and chief marketing officer.. Read more about fortune 500 ceos by race 2019 and let us know what you think.
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