PREFACE FROM THE FOUNDER, SEEMA JAIN:
I can’t believe that we are already halfway through 2021. From strong women, to destination teams and a trip to Mexico, I am so happy to be back out connecting with you! So far, the year has turned out to be a busy one for the Seva Global team. As we continue to grow and expand, I feel fortunate that – being fully vaccinated – I am once again able to travel for business trips and meet with clients and colleagues in person. In 2021, I have taken 16 flights and have stayed 14 nights in hotels. I am doing my part to bring back the hospitality and travel industry! As you receive this newsletter, I am currently at the Conrad Punta de Mita presenting our first Indian Wedding Workshop of the year. Thank you, Zena Phillips and Alvaro Valeriani, for inviting me to come to Mexico, and for giving me this opportunity to help your teams become more culturally confident when hosting Indian guests. Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to present “Women Helping Women,” an inspirational presentation to a wonderful group of female hoteliers from the Asian American Hotel Owner’s Association (AAHOA). We had a roadshow that included Indianapolis, Nashville, and Los Angeles. Thank you, Lina Patel and Nimisha Patel, for the invitation. In June, I also had the privilege to present “The Global Journey: Cultural Tips to Help You Soar” to Meeting Planners International (MPI), where we had approximately 35 engaged planners on the call. I hope to continue working with this impressive group and increasing their cultural competency. Finally, I have started to meet with Convention Visitor Bureau leaders while traveling. Thank you, Elliott Ferguson of Destination DC and Greg DeSheilds of Philadelphia CVB and Tourism Diversity Matters, for sharing your insights and outlook on the tourism industry. I hope you enjoy the summer and the in-person reunions of family, friends, and colleagues. Be safe.
THIS EDITION'S TIP: When working with people of different backgrounds, I have found that there are certain approaches that work well across many cultures. Stay Grounded to EARTH represents some of the simplest ways to connect with people of all backgrounds.
NEXT CHAPTER: Seva Global has some exciting news for our hotelier customers! We have launched our Seva Seal Program. A “Seva Seal” of approval is earned in a 3-tiered scale when members of a hotel team complete our India 101 or Indian Weddings Workshop. For Indian families searching for the hotel venue they feel most comfortable to plan and execute their wedding, they can utilize the new page on our site to review hotels who have earned a “Seva Seal.” Hotels will benefit from this program with the additional promotion of their property, direct links to property websites, and earned trust from the Indian community.
TRAVEL SAFELY, TRAVEL WELL:
Seema’s travel calendar is booking up quickly! If she is in your city and you’d like to schedule a coffee visit or a socially distant walk outside, please let us know! Nashville, Tennessee – Monday, June 21 – Tuesday, June 22 New York, New York – Wednesday, June 30 – Friday, July 2 Los Angeles, California – Thursday, July 8 Punta de Mita, Mexico – Monday, July 12 – Wednesday, July 14 Dallas, Texas – Tuesday, August 3 – Friday, August 6 Atlanta, Georgia – September (TBD) Washington, DC – Wednesday, September 22 – Friday, September 24 Scottsdale, Arizona – Monday, September 27 – Thursday, September 30
In our first newsletter, we shared the meaning behind our company’s name: Seva (pronounced “SAY-vah”) is a Sanskrit word that describes the act of selfless service. We collected stories from our subscribers and this quarter we are highlighting the Tourism Diversity Matters organization. As the collaborative leader of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives and concepts that can address the blind spots of ethnic disparities, Tourism Diversity Matters stands in solidarity with our Asian American and Pacific Islander partner organizations, visitors, and residents. Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA). AAHOA is the largest hotel owners’ association in the world, with nearly 20,000 members representing almost one in every two hotels in the U.S. The travel and tourism industry continues to benefit tremendously from providing employment opportunities to people of diverse backgrounds globally. This is why it is imperative for us to come together resourcefully as an industry to address DEI and eradicate discriminatory systems and practices structured within our industry. In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Tourism Diversity Matters featured Asian Americans and Pacific Islander cultural diversity insights to recognize their contributions to and influence on U.S. culture and history. During the month of May, Tourism Diversity Matters featured Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Cultural Diversity including Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Filipino cultures.
Please continue to share how you practice seva and let us know how you are helping a customer, colleague, community, family, or friend through cultural competence! You can send your “mysevastory” to Elizabeth Vukovich.
SPEAKER SPOTLIGHT, BERNADETTE SMITH:
In each newsletter, we feature an expert from a different subject area to provide us with recommendations as we all continue to learn and grow. Since June was Pride Month, we invited Bernadette Smith, Founder and CEO of The Equality Institute to be our Q3 Spotlight. Here are her recommendations on 5 Things You Can Do Today To Be An Authentic LGBTQ+ Ally:
Educate yourself on what the letters mean, especially the spectrum of gender and sexuality. Remember: it’s not just two boxes, male and female, or straight and gay. There is a lot of gender and sexual identity diversity. Think outside the box.
Educate yourself on the laws which may or may not protect your LGBTQ loved ones. For example, as of July 2020, it’s still legal to deny someone LGBTQ (or assumed to be) access to housing or public accommodations in about 27 states. If you disagree with that, speak up and vote to promote change – LGBTQ-inclusive protections can also happen at the city or county level. Find out the status of the law in your area at www.LGBTMap.org.
Have a zero-tolerance policy with micro-aggressions (subtle comments which are acts of exclusion). For example, speak up if you hear “That’s so gay.” Approach your allyship from a place of curiosity, not confrontation (i.e., “What did you mean when you said, ‘that’s so gay’”?) Don’t forget to use the ARC Method!
Add your pronouns to your email signature and LinkedIn profile and start sharing them at the beginning of meetings to “normalize” the sharing of pronouns and send a signal that LGBTQ folks can trust you to come out.
Look for ways to personally connect with your LGBTQ colleagues simply by being yourself, asking open-ended questions, and having empathy.
Seva Global offers a wide array of services to foster cultural competence across organizations. Through our customized solutions and consultations, we can help to increase employee engagement, enhance customer experience, and drive bottom line results. Our goal is to help teams become more culturally competent when engaging with people from different backgrounds. We would love your feedback on this newsletter. Please share with anyone you think it may interest!
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