Diversity, equity and inclusion might be hot topics at the moment, but at TFE Hotels, employing candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds, genders, religions, ages, and sexual orientation, is so firmly embedded in the corporate culture that it appears effortless.
TFE Hotels Chief Executive Officer, Antony Ritch, explains that you won’t find a lot of targets, quotas or workforce committees dedicated to diversity at TFE because management has always been forward-thinking and held those values as core to who we are as a business.
“Australia is a vibrant and multicultural country – from the oldest continuous culture of our first Australians to the cultures of our newest arrivals from around the world,” he said.
“Our cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths and is at the heart of who we are. It makes Australia a great place to live and TFE Hotels a great place to work.”
From Argentina to Zambia, TFE employs team members from 70 countries in a variety of roles across head office and operations. The company’s Web Master, Indonesian-born Rido Negarindo, is one such team member who is making a mark. Rido, who initially started as a Breakfast Cook for Travelodge Macquarie North Ryde while studying at university, has spent the last ten years honing his mar-tech skills and is now responsible for e-commerce across TFE’s seven hotel brands.
But it’s not just international candidates that help make TFE an interesting place to work. TFE’s Five-Year Indigenous Engagement Strategy shows the strength of the company’s commitment to future action with our First Nations people. Under the strategy, TFE’s Darwin-based Real Jobs Program, which provides work-based training and employment for Indigenous people, has gone from strength to strength. And, in the top end, around 33% of their team are Indigenous Australians, with plans to increase this further to reflect the broader Northern Territory community and expand the program in WA and Queensland.
In Perth, a partnership with APM, one of Australia’s leading providers of Disability Employment Services, sees candidates placed in apprenticeships and roles that play to their strengths at Rendezvous Perth Scarborough.
Whilst on the gender front, TFE is also streets ahead. Two thirds of the global senior leadership team are female. In operations, it’s a pretty even split with a 49% female to 51% male ratio in leadership roles.
TFE Hotels Regional General Manager for NSW and ACT and mother of two, Emma Hynes says: “Sometimes, I hear young female business leaders talk about having to have a “break” in their career or choosing a different career path as they don’t believe they can be a parent and work in hotel operations.”
“It 100% can be done and it helps that TFE offers flexibility in the workplace,” she said. “It takes a lot of planning, and conversations with those closest to you, but you can absolutely have both, so don’t give up on your career dreams.”
The proof is in the pudding with Emma’s protégé, mother-of-four and GM of the newly-opened Travelodge Hotel Hurstville, Ansarina Flower. When it comes to opening her very first ever hotel, Ansarina freely admits it was a step outside her comfort zone.
“The one thing that initially stopped me applying for roles like this, was the thought that there’s a huge amount of work involved in pre-openings, and I wanted to ensure I was the right fit with a big family,” she said.
“TFE were incredibly supportive and let me know that being a working mum shouldn’t be holding me back and I’m glad I listened, because I have landed my dream job.”
It’s a similar story for 27-year-old Jelena Bojanic – whose first GM gig was the global debut of the premium A by Adina brand, opening the flagship property in Canberra.
After emigrating to Australia from Serbia in 1997 (when Jelena was three), her father became involved in the construction of Adina Apartment Hotel Wollongong. Upon its completion, her mother worked at the property in executive housekeeping. Even her brother gained work experience on reception.
“I have a big family tie to Adina from as early as I can remember,” Jelena said. “I was fortunate to get a casual job at Adina Wollongong and went into it thinking, ‘Let’s see what happens…’. Of course, what happened is I loved it, and as soon as a full-time position came up, I put myself forward for the role.”
That role led to stints in Reservations, as EAM for Adina Sydney Airport, and a role in the NSW relief team before landing her dream role at A by Adina Canberra. Jelena recently received the Markus Huck Young Achiever Award at the Canberra Region Tourism Awards.
Back row: Ansarina Flower, GM Travelodge Hotel Hurstville; Diana Quinones Silva, GM Adina Bondi Beach Sydney; Emma Hynes, Regional General Manager NSW & ACT;
Front row: Danielle Schadow, EAM Adina Town Hall; Jelena Bojanic, GM A by Adina Canberra
“Looking back, I’m eternally grateful to have been surrounded by such an incredible culture and team of authentic ‘people people’, who mentored and taught me the importance of being true to myself and letting my personality shine,” she said.
According to Ritch, TFE doesn’t set caveats or timeframes for time in a role, instead they use a merit-based selection processes and hiring is focused on the potential of the candidate.
“Essentially, it’s the capability of the individual that helps grow their career,” he says.
Just like 27-year-old Danielle Schadow who, after an outstanding performance during her two-year stint at Travelodge Newcastle, has just been promoted to EAM at the 145-key Adina Town Hall in Sydney’s CBD.
TFE’s results speak for themselves says Chief People Officer, Michelle Bevan, with the Sydney-based hotel company scoring a 90% favorable result in their Diversity and Inclusion Index – 16 points higher than the Australian norm group – in their last team engagement survey.
“Diversity and inclusion are all about empowering people, respecting and appreciating what makes them different, and celebrating it,” she said. “This is what TFE has always been great at, and we employ people who are great at it.”
“Irrespective of your age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education or national origin, at TFE we want you to be you, and we will help you grow.”
According to Bevan, it’s not just about employing a team, it’s also about investing in resources to make sure those teams are set up for success. At TFE, this includes a continued investment in programs that help employ the long-term unemployed, wellness programs; Global People Tech; Training and in their Academe Future Leaders (technical-based skills) and People Leaders (behavioural/human-focused skills) programs to foster and accelerate leadership development.
Award-winning Adina Bondi GM, Diana Quinones Silva, started her hotel career with TFE’s Future Leaders Program 12 years ago – one of 250 team members to graduate since they were introduced in 2014 – and has been managing Adina, Vibe and Travelodge Hotels in the Sydney area for the past seven years.
“My advice to anyone wanting to take the next step into a hotel leadership position is to invest time in finding out what type of role model you want to be in the long term,” she said. “But, above all, be true to yourself and believe in the strength of your core values.
To find more about a career at TFE Hotels visit tfehotels.com/en/careers