I don't know about you, but I'm not entirely sure how it's February already. Is it me, or is it as you get older, time goes ever quicker? A topic for another blog piece perhaps...
Regardless of how fast the year is travelling, I have had a wonderful start to 2023. I'll be totally honest with you, normally my January is full of self loathing, pushing goals back by a week at a time and NOT joining the gym, more lounging and over thinking in Christmas-snack mode far longer than I ought to. But not this year...No, no.
Over the period of January, I've had the honour to be a part of something very special within the hospitality industry. An industry that I have over the years kind of forgotten was actually my first experience of the working world, and one that I enjoyed so much.
I left school after completing my A-Levels knowing I didn’t want to go into further education, but not 100% knowing exactly what I wanted to do.
I turned to Hospitality frankly because I loved to party and socialise (what I now realise was a need to experience humanity and all walks of life, in the way I knew how to back then), and I got to meet so many people, hear so many stories, and be a part of a community that truly made me feel accepted for being whoever I wanted to be.
Since having the opportunity to return to the industry via a different avenue (the EEI avenue), I have realised that there is so much more I love about it...
It showcases commitment in a deeper way than I’ve experienced in other industries; Commitment to each other, to the customer and to the brand. Hospitality offers us fun, an outlet for letting off steam, a way to enhance our senses and minds. It creates spaces to learn about others, build networks, to witness expression, let our guards down and interact with those outside of our own communities. It is literally a plethora of natural diversity.
I was honoured to be asked by Jo Cole, Head of People at Turtle Bay Restaurants, to help create and take part in the ‘All About Race Roadshow’ which was designed to be rolled out across each and every one of their 47 restaurants across the UK in the space of three weeks.
This is big time. This is a statement. This is the beginning of their personal mission to become an Anti-Racist organisation.
I know of no other brand within the Hospo industry doing this, whether that be that they aren’t shouting and celebrating it, or that it genuinely isn’t happening anywhere else!
Since Olajide Alabi (my business partner and Equality, Inclusion & Wellbeing Partner at TB) has been on this journey with Turtle Bay, he and Jo Cole have been on a mission to start laying some foundations for others to build on with them.
This kind of work doesn't come without its challenges. There are so many hoops and loops to get through before this kind of work comes together. How many times I heard the line “The Pressure Is Getting Worser” come out of Olajide’s mouth is a joke. But they did it. They made it happen, and although Olajide bravely lead the way, it does take a community to pull this sort of shit off, and that is what Turtle Bay have displayed- a community driven goal.
The goal being one that will benefit their people and their customer. As it should.
My thoughts now turn to the community that made it happen, those 18 facilitators that turned around and said YES, YES I will help you roll this roadshow out. Not because they had to- they didn’t. But because they wanted to, because they can see the bigger picture, because they care, because they’ve had trauma, because they know someone who has had trauma, because they want to do the right thing.
I hope that each one of those people realises the impact they are making, not just to those directly sitting in the workshop, but to the people who will be affected by those people, and the messages they will continue to share and so on and so forth. Aaaand breath….
I have learned so much throughout this roadshow, I have seen pushback, I have seen growth, I have seen curiosity, I have seen confusion and then realisation.
It’s been a sheer pleasure and I am so proud to have worked alongside what I call in my opinion, innovators within their industry.
Leading the way takes authenticity, time, effort, budget, honesty and inclusion- aspects Turtle Bay are investing in and showing up for.
I'm so here for it. Always.
Louisa Davies - Co-Founder of SISU Equality, Equity, Inclusion and Wellbeing.