Next time you stay at a Sofitel, a Novotel or, if your company is really suffering in the recession, a Formule 1 in France, take a look around at the staff.
Hotels, along with most other parts of the travel industry, are notoriously image-focused. This is why you always get the resting actors and models between assignments behind the check-in desk. Other, less toothsome individuals are consigned to work back of house, where they have little chance of coming face to face with a paying client.
This may be about to change at hotel company Accor, the parent group of the chains mentioned above. It has decided to anonymise CVs submitted to its French careers website, removing applicants’ first and last names, nationality, sex, age and e-mail address.
The company says that the decision is to “ensure that the initial selection of candidates is uniquely based on the applicant’s training, experience and skills” and “provides testimony to Accor’s engagement on the subject of diversity”.
It says: “The objective of the anonymous CV is to avoid any discrimination, conscious or subconscious, linked to the age, sex or origins of the candidate.”
Accor is not the first travel company to welcome older employees. Many of the US airlines have cabin crews with a higher average age than those portrayed in Virgin Atlantic’s recent 25th anniversary advert, for example. Until recently, United even had an attendant in her mid-80s working on its flights.
So, does this mean we are likely to see more mature people behind the check-in desk at Novotel? Possibly not. Initial selection and the interview itself are two different things.
While there may be no discrimination in the process of selecting who to invite for interview, discrimination still reigns in the interview itself.
To its credit, Accor says it plans to run a training and communication campaign for managers over the coming year. But hotel general managers faced with the choice between a putting a 20-year-old and a 60-year-old behind the reception desk will probably still favour youth over experience. I hope I’m wrong.