Offering a diverse range of speakers and topics, HR in Hospitality strives to produce timely sessions that will help you navigate the ever-changing professional landscape. Please see below for descriptions of our upcoming sessions in 2021.

HR Sessions

The Future of Work

HR1 Monday, April 26 10:30 – 11:30am
Moderated by Nigel Beck

Join us for what promises to be an enlightening moderated panel discussion on the implications of the Future of Work on the hospitality industry.  As more FoW technology and approaches enter the workplace, in concert with a seismic shift in labor pool demographics, and how that labor views work, we find ourselves in the midst of a sea change.  No longer something simply interesting or academic to read about, it has arrived. From robotics, to widescale use of AI, machine learning and big data, to hybrid man-machine jobs, and the spread and embrace of the gig economy, substantive changes are afoot. What does this mean for our industry? Are we being smart about where and how best to incorporate FoW? What about the impact on our people? Do jobs need to be redesigned? Is upskilling existing talent a viable strategy? Do we need to rethink our branding, attraction and recruitment strategies, given the apparent new world order? We may not get to it all, but this session will certainly give you pause and much to think about.


Session takeaways

  • Understand FoW technologies
  • Define the current and future labor market
  • Impact on recruitment, selection, and management


HR Priorities in a Franchised World

HR2 Monday, April 26 10:30 – 11:30am
Moderated by Tashlin Lahkani

Finding the right balance of HR programming for franchisees remains a vexing challenge. We know the risks associated with joint employer liability and the importance of limiting involvement in the daily operations of franchisees. However, not all franchisees are alike and their HR needs can vary considerably. As such, it’s important to develop a suite of HR supports that can address a wide array of priorities. In this session, you’ll hear from our seasoned experts how to best support franchisee HR needs so they can manage their daily operating requirements and meet the respective brand standards in a consistent, independent and sustainable manner.


Session takeaways

  • To Come

Workshop: Virtual Reality for a More Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

HR3 Monday, April 26 10:30 – 11:30am

In this experiential session, you will not only learn how Virtual Reality (VR) can be used for empathy and perspective taking but you’ll get to experience it firsthand. Praxis Labs, a social impact driven venture that advances diversity and inclusion outcomes through Virtual Reality based unconscious bias training, will share how they are partnering with Fortune 100 companies to upskill the workforce of the future on working across difference to create workplaces where everyone belongs. You’ll have the chance to learn about the research supporting their work and how they are bringing their research-backed solution to global companies. Then, you’ll get to experience a full learning module and gain insights into how other companies are leveraging the training and the impact on their work, and lastly better understand how your organization could implement VR trainings for soft skill leadership development.

Session takeaways

  • Experience a VR based unconscious bias training
  • Identify how the insights and data from this tech-enabled training could make your workplace more inclusive
  • Learn how these experiential learning experiences could be implemented at your organization
Elise Smith
, CEO, Praxis Labs

Navigating Accessibility and the ADA

HR4 Monday, April 26 2:30 – 3:30pm

Hospitality HR departments face several complex challenges raised by the increasing presence of people with disabilities. On the employee side, the perceived lack of accessibility to finding open positions is a real cause for concern as advocacy groups seek to bolster hiring of people with disabilities, a severely and chronically underemployed population. Even following a successful offer, the challenges extend to making appropriate workplace accommodations, from providing adaptive technology and reconfiguring workspaces to addressing prevailing attitudes. On the guest side, HR departments are responsible for ensuring that all front-facing associates are fully equipped to interact smoothly and professionally with all guests, including those with disabilities, and that the property is able to offer equivalent service to this group. In this session, the high-experienced moderator and panelists will identify the primary environmental, technological and social barriers faced by prospective employees and guests, and discuss a number of prescriptive and easy-to-implement action steps that can be taken to ensure the workplace is welcoming and truly inclusive of employees and guests with disabilities.


Session takeaways

  • Understanding of the nature and scope of challenges for employees and guests with disabilities, and the resources available to address the focal needs
  • Effective management and operational strategies for welcoming employees and guests with disabilities
  • Legal considerations for creating physical and technological adaptations


Roundtable: Mid-Manager Retention

HR5 Monday, April 26 2:30 – 3:30pm

Mid-level managers serve a critically important and increasingly difficult role. They are responsible for translating and implementing strategic objectives and initiatives into operational reality. They are also instrumental in keeping line staff engaged and performing at or above expectations. Unfortunately, middle managers can be one of the most difficult groups of employees to develop and retain. In light of the recent circumstances, they have been asked to do more work with fewer resources, and are facing unprecedented levels of change and competitive uncertainty. As such, many are burning out at a very fast rate. In this session, you’ll learn about some of the more progressive and impactful efforts to engage and support front-line managers, and ways to foster a workplace where mid-managers have a strong sense of belonging, confidence, and value.


Session takeaways

  • To Come
Jake Basham
, Vice President, Human Resources, Loews Hotels & Co

Workshop: Virtual Reality for a More Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

HR6 Monday, April 26 2:30 – 3:30pm

In this experiential session, you will not only learn how Virtual Reality (VR) can be used for empathy and perspective taking, but you’ll get to experience it firsthand. Praxis Labs, a social impact driven venture that advances diversity and inclusion outcomes through Virtual Reality-based unconscious bias training, will share how they are partnering with Fortune 100 companies to upskill the workforce of the future on working across difference to create workplaces where everyone belongs. You’ll have the chance to learn about the research supporting their work and how they are bringing their research-backed solution to global companies. Then, you’ll get to experience a full learning module and gain insights into how other companies are leveraging the training and the impact on their work, and lastly, better understand how your organization could implement VR training for soft skill leadership development.

Session takeaways

  • Experience a VR-based unconscious bias training
  • Identify how the insights and data from this tech-enabled training could make your workplace more inclusive
  • Learn how these experiential learning experiences could be implemented at your organization
Elise Smith
, CEO, Praxis Labs

D&I Best Practices: Where we are, and where we need to be

HR7 Tuesday, April 27 11:00 – 12:00pm
Moderated by Gerry Fernandez

In 2020, racial bias became one of the most important and long-overdue HR priorities. Unfortunately, the path forward many hospitality firms is neither clear nor easy. This session will offer a state-of-the-industry overview of bias challenges in the workplace, and offer insights for enhancing leadership, allocating resources, and implementing policies and best practices that address the negative impact of bias and create truly inclusive places to work.

Session takeaways

  • To Come

Roundtable: Staffing smarter: Predictive selection systems

HR8 Tuesday, April 27 11:00 – 12:00pm
Moderated by Jim Houran

This session will focus on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of designing a selection system that not only demonstrates real utility in hiring decisions, but also meets the requirements of job-relatedness, validity, reliability, fairness and, is free from adverse impact. Structured interviews, work simulations, assessment centers, online assessments – all are fair game for discussion. You will hear how hiring decisions are made for a number of key positions across several industry segments. In addition, strategies for selecting more senior vs. entry-level, as well the emerging uses of commercially available assessment. And of course, legal considerations will be integrated throughout the discussion.

Session takeaways

  • To Come


Brenda Tscharner
, Vice President of Human Resources, Proper Hospitality

Workshop: Using a data-driven approach to managing employee health and the bottom line

HR9 Tuesday, April 27 3:00 – 4:00pm
Moderated by Alan Momeyer

As employers struggle to maintain a healthy and productive workforce, a new set of HR questions and concerns arise: Do our employee live in or near current or future hot spots? How vulnerable are our employees given their respective health condition(s)? What types of proactive efforts can we take to mitigate the implications associated with health-related concerns? In this session, you’ll learn about the types of employee information that can be leveraged to help determine and manage your risk, and develop data-driven and actionable interventions that have a direct impact employee well-being, functional costs, and ultimately margin performance.

Session takeaways

  • To Come


New innovations in L&D

HR10 Tuesday, April 27 3:00 – 4:00pm
Moderated by Joy Rothschild

The days of herding employees into a traditional classroom for an instructor-led workshop appear to be on their way out. So, what are organizations doing instead?  This session will examine how more of an idiographic just-in-time, bite-sized, micro-learning approach has moved beyond fad status. Making content directly available to employees when they need it has become the mantra of the day. To do this, learning and development professionals are leveraging commercially available, public domain, and home-grown learning assets to develop a new generation of self-directed and self-generated learning options that include modular, cohort-based, and virtual/blended learning journeys. From the collation of data to articulate learning needs and develop learning objectives, to decisions regarding learning asset inclusion, sequencing/level of prescription, delivery mediums, use of gamification, and the optimal use of internal and/or external subject matter experts, there is certainly much to consider. Our panel will discuss their current L&D plans and efforts and plans and provide insights about future developments and key challenges.


Session Take-Aways:

  • Align enterprise objectives, human capital strategy, and learning and development programming
  • Leverage self-directed learning
  • Understand the benefits of multiple, varied learning assets

Law Sessions

EEOC Update

LAW1 Monday, April 26 10:30 – 11:30am

In the last 20 years the EEOC has resolved approximately 2 million claims and labeled fewer than 400,000 of them as merit resolutions. This means that HR professionals and their lawyers have spent time and money defending 1.6 million claims that the EEOC found to have no merit. Clearly, employers need to figure out a way to avoid claims not just defend. One cannot avoid claims, however, without being on top of the law and the EEOC’s priorities. In this session you will be provided updates on the law and the EEOC’s direction from leading experts.

Session takeaways

  • Review recent judicial changes in discrimination law and their effect on the hospitality industry
  • Explore EEOC policy and practice changes
  • Have a look into the future – cases on the Supreme Court docket for 2020

Hotel Valuation: is a union hotel worth less than non-union hotel

LAW2 Monday, April 26 10:30 – 11:30am

How do hotel buyers and sellers view union v non-union hotels?  Are union hotels seen as less valuable?  Is there truly a difference in union v non-union hotel value. In this session, two owners, a lawyer who represents owners, and social scientist who has studied the values of union and non-union hotels discuss the values of each and why

Session takeaways

  • Describing the differences between union and non-union hotels that affect finances and operations;
  • Revealing the effect of unionization on the bottom line;
  • Understanding how unionization affects a properties developer and / or buyer/seller

Roundtable: Wage and hour class actions

LAW3 Monday, April 26 10:30 – 11:30am

Session Take-Aways to come:

Michael Gray
, Co-Client Affairs Partner, Jones Day

Me Too: The Continuing Development of Sexual Harassment Law, Training and Prevention

LAW4 Monday, April 26 2:30 – 3:30pm

It has been almost four years since the Weinstein scandal turned sexual harassment from another protected class to a movement that is pervasive in hospitality and all industries.  In this section, top discrimination lawyers from both the employer and employee sides will discuss the latest trends in cases, the type of training that employers use, the changes in the law, and anything else that affects Me Too.

Session takeaways

  • Discuss the changes in the definition of sexual harassment law
  • Examine the latest in training and other prevention methods
  • Leverage ‘best practices’ for investigations

COVID Legislation

LAW5 Monday, April 26 2:30 – 3:30pm

In the last decade there have been numerous State and Local Laws targeted at the Hospitality Industry.  From min wages for tipped employees; predictive scheduling; limits on rooms/square footage for housekeepers…. The Covid 19 pandemic has resulted in a number of new statutes, OSHA regulations, and other safety polices and procedures.  In this session, two seasoned employment lawyers and an experienced GM will discuss the new relevant legal obligations and how hoteliers are complying.

Session takeaways

  • Identifying the new Covid focused laws;
  • Understanding how to comply and what the penalties are;
  • Discussing how to implement Covid mandated changes into your workplace and onto to employees.

Roundtable: Lessons learned from COVID for the restaurant industry

LAW6 Monday, April 27 2:30 – 3:30pm

For decades the law has trailed society and the 21st century workplace is prime example of this. Whether its non-competes, poaching polices, cell phones, GPS, state laws, privacy, social media polices, legalized marijuana today’s employers are faced with new issues on seemingly a daily basis. In this session we identify the latest issues and discuss how the industry and you should react and proact.

Session takeaways

  • Explore areas where the law is clearly behind society
  • Identify where and how legal gaps can be exploited
  • Implement advice on how to avoid liability

Union Organizing Post Pandemic

LAW7 Tuesday, April 27 11:00 – 12:00pm
Moderated by Harry Katz

The pandemic has drawn attention to both the positives and negatives of being union or non-union.  Do employees see the union is more or less important, how are unions “using” the pandemic to organize?  How are employers reacting?  Will the next year see a rise or fall in organizing?

Session takeaways

  • Providing an overview of union organizing activity since the pandemic;
  • Understanding the issues that are driving the organization;
  • Learning how management and labor are approaching post pandemic organizing

How does the Plaintiff’s and Defense bar see the COVID Issues?

LAW8 Tuesday, April 27 11:00 – 12:00pm

It will be almost 18 months since the pandemic hit our shores and now the litigation is in full bloom. In this session two seasoned plaintiffs’ lawyers square off against two seasoned management lawyers to discuss the state of the covid 19 litigation, the issues the courts need to resolve, how P lawyers are viewing their cases, and how manamgment lawyers seek to prevent and defend such suits.

Session takeaways

  • Explore areas where the law is clearly behind society
  • Identify where and how legal gaps can be exploited
  • Implement advice on how to avoid liability

The Future of Immigration and Hospitality

LAW9 Tuesday, April 27 11:00 – 12:00pm

Will the recently (re)elected administration finally tackle immigration reform? How is the hospitality industry, which relies on an immigrant workforce, affected by more than a decade of a “broken” system? In this session, industry consultants do a deep dive into the effect of immigration policy on the ability of hotels and restaurants to staff their properties.

Session takeaways

  • Understanding the current state of immigration law;
  • Defining the staffing problem;
  • Creating a system to address problem with and for undocumented employee

BLM at the Workplace

Law10 Tuesday, April 27 3:00 – 4:00pm

The Black Live Matter Movement has permeated every aspect of society including the workplace.  As employers seek to create a fair environment that provides opportunity to all, there are legal and practical concerns regarding affirmative action, implicit and explicit bias, promotion and hiring decisions.


Session Take-Aways:

  • Understanding the laws surrounding diversity initiatives;
  • Creating a progressive and positive environment
  • Identifying potential legal and operational issues

Laws that apply to COVID

Law11 Tuesday, April 28 3:00 – 4:00pm

ADA, OSHA, WARN, Workers Compensation. at times it seems that there are an unlimited number of labor and employment regulations. At no time was this more apparent than the on set of the pandemic.  Owners and operators were faced with, and continue to face, the seemingly impossible task of complying with laws like WARN, the ADA, the FMLA, Worker’s Compensation. Now, employers are facing the wave of lawsuits under these statues. In this session, three seasoned employment lawyers will provide attendees with an in-depth discussion of the effect of the pandemic on long-standing employment laws.

Session takeaways

  • Identifying older statues that are being are being applied to COVID related issues;
  • Complying with these established laws;
  • Understanding the first wave of COVID employment litigation

Retrospective of Union negotiations during the Crisis

LAW12 Tuesday, April 27 3:00 – 4:00pm

The first reaction to the pandemic were layoffs, next came safety issues, then recall, next the new guest desires and protocols as the industry gets used to a “new normal.”  Each change, each issue, was a subject of negotiations. In this session, veteran hotel labor leaders, on both sides of the aisle, discuss how the parties reacted to the pandemic, what the negotiations focused on, and what the future holds.


Session Take-Aways:

  • Learning what the negotiations looked like in 2020;
  • Learning the position the union and the employers took;
  • Hypothesizing how the pandemic will affect future negotiations

Plenary Sessions

Lifetime Achievement Award

PLENA Monday, April 26 9:45 – 10:00am

Carolyn J. Clark is the distinguished recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award!

Carolyn’s extensive career in the hospitality industry spanned over 40 years.  She held various senior positions with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (formerly Canadian Pacific Hotels) since 1974 including: Vice President, Human Resources; and Executive Director, Human Resources.  Carolyn was promoted as Senior Vice President, Human Resources in 2005 and in 2013 she was appointed Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Americas for FRHI Hotels & Resorts.  In 2015 Carolyn was appointed Senior Vice President, Talent & Culture, North & Central America, Accor.   In this position Carolyn had responsibility for all aspects of human resources for all brands in the North & Central America Region until her retirement in June 2018.

As a result of the progressive Human Resource initiatives that have been implemented with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, the Company was recognized for 12 consecutive years as an “Employer of Choice” as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.

Carolyn was awarded the Educator of the Year at the Ontario Hostelry Institute Gold Awards.  Additionally, she was granted an Honorary Degree in Hospitality Operations Management from the Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts, George Brown College, Toronto.  Carolyn was recognized with the 2015 Human Resources Award from the Hotel Association of Canada and inducted into its Hall of Fame.

Carolyn graduated from York University with a B.A. in Sociology.  Her past affiliations included Member, American Hotel & Lodging Association Human Resource Committee, Council of Human Resources Executives, Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council and the Board of Directors, Canadian Hospitality Foundation.  Carolyn is currently a Member of the Advisory Board for the Women in Tourism and Hospitality Organization (WITH).  She is also a volunteer member of Dress For Success Professional Women’s Development Group, which empowers women to transition back to the workplace.

Carolyn Clark
, Formerly Senior Vice President, Talent & Culture, North & Central America, Accor

Keynote Speaker

PLEN1 Monday, April 26 9:00 – 9:45am

In this conversational session, you will get to know and learn more about Kevin Jacobs, Executive Vice President of Hilton Worldwide.

More details to come.

Kevin Jacobs
, Executive Vice President/CFO, Hilton Worldwide

50 Legal Tips in 50 Minutes

PLEN2 Monday, April 26 1:00 – 2:00pm
Moderated by Harry Katz

Join us as leading hospitality attorneys take turns presenting concise, practical tips for HR professionals on critical employment and labor law issues, including class actions, wage and hour compliance, gender bias and harassment, social media, wrongful termination, joint-employer, and more.  Learn what you need to know to stay on top of the broad and ever-changing legal landscape – all in one fast-paced, high-energy session.


Session takeaways

  • Learn about the hottest labor and employment law issues
  • Gather practical tips and strategies to address vexing legal issues
  • Identify nascent issues that may be just over the horizon

Keynote: Bias in Human Resources

PLEN3 Tuesday, April 27 9:00 – 10:00am

Details to come

Session takeaways

  • Details to come



Gerry Fernandez
, President and Founder, Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance

HR Challenges, Insights, and Solutions  

PLEN4 Tuesday, April 27 1:30 – 2:30pm
Moderated by Bruce Tracey

In this fast-paced session, you will learn how our esteemed panel of industry professionals address a wide array HR challenges. Panelists discuss their approaches to strategic and operational issues that originate from within their respective organizations, as well as those that are borne of exogenous sources. Our experts will reveal “best practice” ideas and offer key insights about the most effective and sustainable policies and practices for staffing, performance management, leadership development, employee engagement, retention, functional metrics, employment branding, culture, total rewards, and much more. Be sure to come armed with some questions to take advantage of this unique opportunity.


Session takeaways

  • Recognize current HR challenges posed by both internal and external forces
  • Discover overall approaches for devising solid human capital strategy
  • Design and implement a robust human capital programming agenda

Labor and Employment Policy in the Presidential Administration

PLEN5 Wednesday, April 28 9:00 – 10:00am
Moderated by Harry Katz

Whether or not President Trump is re-elected or the Congress switches to complete Democratic control. The country will continue to face a number of critical labor and employment policy issues. Has the election likely affect policies and the administration of those policies?  Will the NLRB once again become a driver of labor law reform? Will the Department of Labor push the joint-employer doctrine? And how might immigration policy and law hange, if at all? You’ll get the answers to these and more!

Session Takeaways

  • Understand the impact that labor and employment policies and their administration by the DOL and NLRB have on your organization
  • Predict Presidential, Congressional, DOL and NLRB plans moving forward
  • Identify adjustments you can make to policies and procedures due to likely initiatives

Executive Summit

PLEN6 Wednesday, April 28 10:30 – 11:30am
Moderated by Bruce Tracey, Dave Sherwyn

This session offers a unique opportunity to listen in and learn from the strategic and function-specific discussions held in board rooms with owners and senior executives in the hospitality industry. Our panel of highly experienced hospitality executives and legal experts will discuss, debate, agree and, agree to disagree, on several vexing HR topics that hospitality companies deal with each day. This simulated executive meeting will probe a number of significant challenges facing the industry, currently, as well as complex issues looming on the horizon. You will leave the session with alternative perspectives, as well as prescriptive insights for both long-range planning and tactical decision making.

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