MY Story

Making a Difference Through Community

While working for a well-known hospitality group, I saw that nearly all of the leadership roles were filled by white cis-gendered men with a degree from a particular school. It made me feel like, “Oh, that’s not for me. That role isn’t allowed for me. I’m not qualified for that.” The fact that I now get to focus on developing internal talent in hospitality brings me so much joy.

In some ways, I have always proudly felt kinship with outcasts. When I look at hospitality in general, or restaurants specifically, I think that a lot of us are sort of living on the fringe of society. We are non-conformists. When I posted something on social media about the fringes, a woman I’d previously led with commented, “I still remember that about you, Chaley. You taught me that different is valuable. It’s not about a look. It’s about people. The people who are the most interesting are generally the hardest to manage. And they’re also usually really talented.”

Sometimes you don’t realize what you’ve taught other people. Sometimes you don’t realize what other people have taught you. I’ve learned so much from so many people, and along with my otherness I am also learning my own privilege. I am learning how to be more inclusive—intentionally, consistently, systemically. Working in Leadership & Training allows me the luxury of continuous learning, and sharing that, or providing safe spaces for that to happen, has brought me full circle.

I truly believe that at RHP, everyone has a seat at the table and it’s purposeful. It’s not just because it’s hard to hire people. We’re actively recruiting all kinds of people and are open to the fact that maybe experience matters more than education or that how you communicate and how you lead matters more than how you look. We focus on leadership and the development of internal candidates, as well as our people and how their differences bring value.

I’m very different from my fellow corporate employees. My boss has had a very different experience from me, but she is the epitome of inclusivity. I’ve never sat at a table in one of our boardrooms and had anyone make me feel less than for whatever it is I do that’s different. My leader allows me to find my way through it authentically and is always supportive. That’s empowerment.

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