Sophia Hyder Hock's CEO Summit Takeaways

By: Sophia Hyder Hock, Destinations International

During our CEO Summit in Greater Palm Springs, Sophia Hyder Hock, chief diversity officer at Destinations International took the stage to share EDI insights with attendees. This being her second summit with our team, we wanted to take a deeper dive into her sessions.

Why is it important for CEOs to focus on EDI?

We have already heard about the business case for EDI: Statistics have shown that embracing and incorporating practices that champion equity, diversity, and inclusion lead to greater creativity, innovation, and revenue generation.

Now more than ever there’s a need to come together as a community, to create a sense of belonging and empathy that engages and builds trust with community members from all backgrounds and abilities. Finding these local stories exemplify the fabric of your destination are key to economic growth and a shared sense of pride that will attract visitors irrespective of the size of your destination. 

Our 2022 Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Study on Destination Organizations and 2021 Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Roadmap provides some actionable thought leadership pertaining to the importance of this focus.

What can CEOs do to start implementing EDI initiatives? 

The first and most important initiative CEOs can take is to understand why EDI is important in the context of their own lives, and for their organization. This level of self-exploration and awareness tends to bring about a natural commitment that will enhance the entire planning and implementation process.

The second step is to sign our CEO EDI Pledge. Our CEO community wants to be held accountable by sharing and understanding industry best practices. By signing this pledge, I will work with you to collect best practices, to understand where you need greater assistance, and to provide you with EDI resources that will help you implement EDI initiatives that are authentic for your destination. We also have an EDI Assessment Tool to be launched in 2022; this tool will provide destinations with the ability to establish baseline metrics and to track your EDI progress over time.

The third recommendation I have is to have an organizational definition of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Having this definition will engage staff and will provide clarity on how to develop an internal and external EDI strategy. As you undergo these discussions with your team, you may realize that you are already doing some of the work and didn’t realize it yet.

Prior to implementing EDI initiatives, I recommend participating in the 6-part EDI Leadership Series that begins in May.

We had over 100 first timers at our conference. As your first CEO Summit, what was your experience like?

This summit was powerful in many ways. I feel like I’ve already made lasting bonds, and I’m just getting started in this role!

It was so wonderful to see people in person again; to shake hands, to hug, and to share an impromptu smile. I felt the energy – it was alive and refreshing to reconnect with old friends and to meet new friends that now feel like family. I also learned a lot of from my colleagues in each session and walked away with inspiration a lot of ideas that I am more than happy to get started on.

About the Author

Sophia Hyder HockChief Diversity Officer

About the Author

Sophia Hyder Hock has spent 20 years developing tailored strategy, training, facilitation, and coaching services on topics pertaining to diversity and social inclusion, gender empowerment, community engagement and outreach, emotional intelligence, and cultural awareness for clients in the international development and travel industries. She integrates human centered design thinking, and mindfulness practices into her work as a holistic way to develop sustainable outcomes that align with business performance and the enabling environment. Operationally, Ms. Hyder Hock has experience creating and managing budgets of $145M+ for development programs around the world.

In 2020, and in collaboration with Travel Unity, Sophia played an active role in developing the DEI Standards for Travel and Tourism and the Certified Diversity Travel Professional (CDTP) program. She has spoken at universities, travel industry events, and entrepreneurial platforms about how to integrate DEI in a practical and sustainable manner. Sophia has traveled to 40+ countries and is always excited to learn about people, history, and cultural nuances.

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