BALTIMORE -- The hotel industry has not lived up to promises to improve its treatment of blacks in hiring, contracting and marketing, the NAACP said Monday.
The nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization gave the 11 major hotel chains a grade of C-minus in its fourth annual report card. Last year, the NAACP had said the hotel chains improved somewhat.
NAACP President Kweisi Mfume urged people "to avoid spending dollars in failing or underperforming hotel chains."
"What we've seen is a one-way relationship. Over the last three years, after our first report ended, the hotel industry has changed very, very little," Mfume said.
"Sustained progress has not been as fast as we had hoped, nor has it been as fast as it has been promised."
Marriott International earned a B from the NAACP; Cendant Hotels, B-minus; Hilton Hotels Corp., C-plus; and Hyatt Hotels Corp, C-plus.
The NAACP issued grades below C to four hotel chains: Starwood, C-minus; Radisson Hospitality Worldwide, D-plus; Omni, D-plus; and Wyndham, D.
Best Western International received a C; Bass Hotels and Resorts Inc. (including Holiday Inn), C; Choice Hotels International (includes Comfort Inn and Quality Inn), C.
Last year, no chain got a grade lower than a C.
Tom Polski, spokesman for the Minneapolis-based Radisson group, said the company is in total support of the NAACP goals to ensure that opportunities are available to all minority groups.
"Radisson understands that the rating methodology which was used in the annual NAACP report card changed this year, resulting in a lower grade," Polski said.
"It's important to note that our policy is strict adherence to the letter and spirit of equal opportunity and the principles of diversity and inclusion in all operations," he said.
The NAACP based the grades on the hotels' hiring practices, charitable donations and advertising. Hotels were also graded on whether franchise opportunities are offered to blacks and whether the hotels use black contractors.
"We are disappointed with the grade and we pledge to do better," said Fred Stern, a spokesman for Wyndham. "We don't have a question with the survey. We think it is a valuable service that is helpful to the industry as a whole." Stern also said their grade suffered because their performance bar had been raised by other chains.
Spokesmen for other low-rated chains either were not immediately available or had no immediate comment.
An executive with Marriott, which is based in Bethesda, Md., acknowledged that the chain still has "more work to do" in this area, even though it scored the highest in this report card.
"We're pleased with the B, but we're still striving for an A," Marriott vice president David Sampson said.
The NAACP did not grade the Adam's Mark Hotels chain for a second consecutive year because both were involved in a lawsuit over alleged racial discrimination, NAACP spokeswoman Jean Ross said.
The chain was accused of discriminating against blacks, prompting the NAACP to call for a boycott. In a March settlement, the chain admitted no wrongdoing but approved diversity training for all employees.
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