At Hilton, diversity and inclusion is at the core of our business, from the hospitality that we provide to our guests, to the same light and warmth that we share with our Team Members. In honor of Black History Month, Idris Stover, Senior Manager of Global Diversity and Inclusion sat down with Hilton’s Director of Supplier Diversity Erika Gibson to talk about how she engages and supports diverse communities. Read on to learn more about how Erika is empowering change within her community and Hilton Supply Management (HSM).
Idris Stover (IS): Tell us about yourself and your career path?
Erika Gibson (EG): I’ve been with Hilton for a little over seven years now, and currently work as Director of Supplier Diversity. I began my career in law before obtaining my MBA from The George Washington University School of Business. I realized that I wanted to change fields, and when I received a call from a recruiter about an opportunity with Hilton, I knew that it felt like the right fit. Hilton has a great reputation, a warm and welcoming workplace culture and the hospitality industry interested me. I moved into direct and indirect sourcing roles within Hilton Supply Management (HSM), and from there onto Corporate Procurement as a Senior Manager. This past summer, I was promoted to my current role.
IS: What do you do in your current role with Hilton?
EG: I lead the advancement of Supplier Diversity at Hilton, with a focus on developing and enhancing a strong pipeline of diverse suppliers and connecting that pool of supplier partners into HSM’s supply chain to get their products and services to our network of 10,000+ hotels and corporate offices.
IS: For those that might not know, what is Supplier Diversity?
EG: Essentially, we encourage doing business with small, diverse, local businesses through a variety of mechanisms including events, education and training, matchmaking, business opportunity fairs, networking and mentorship opportunities. We are focused on enhancing our supplier diversity program as we work towards our Travel with Purpose 2030 Goal to double our sourcing from local, small, and medium-sized suppliers and minority-owned businesses.
IS: Why is it critical that Hilton partners with diverse suppliers?
EG: Diverse businesses typically encounter barriers that challenge their start-up and sustainability, such as access to capital and networking opportunities, so effective supplier diversity strategies can alleviate these pain points. Small businesses are also often very nimble and innovative, which not only impacts our bottom line, but aligns with our innovative spirit. For Hilton, supplier diversity goes back to what this company was founded on. We are committed to having a positive impact in the communities where we work, live and travel – we call this the Hilton Effect. A big part of this is our positive economic impact on our communities – and one of the ways we continue that momentum is by doing business with local, small, diverse owned businesses.
IS: February is Black History Month in the U.S. Why is it important to recognize and celebrate these moments?
EG: I think it’s always important to recognize and celebrate diversity of thought and background. As a company, it’s important to reflect and recognize who you’re doing business with every day, but observances like Black History Month are an added opportunity to reflect on our values and our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
IS: As you know Hilton has several Team Member Resource Groups* that help drive engagement and connectivity. What has been your experience with this groups?
EG: I am a member of the African American and Millennial Team Member Resource Groups and both groups really help serve as a voice for our larger population and identify opportunities. They’re also amazing for networking and creating a sense of community within the workplace. Personally, I've had the opportunity to sit in on focus groups aimed at improving the Team Member and the customer experiences and I also had the privilege of planning and participating in two signature events for our AATMRG. I've attended an event for every TMRG and each time I attend, I come away amazed by the speakers and the learning that each group brings to the table.
IS: What career advice would you offer to others?
EG: The most meaningful piece of advice I can give is to find a position that allows you to marry something you're passionate about with something you have experience and skills in, in order to create something that’s worthwhile to you. For me, my passion is encouraging diversity and I’ve been able to leverage my skills in procurement and contract management. In my experience, finding that combination in my career has empowered me to create more economic impact and inclusion for all.
If Erika’s story inspired you, maybe it’ll inspire others. We encourage you to share it with your social media networks, and submit your own Team Member story, here. Want to join the Hilton team? Check out our Hilton Careers website today!