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My Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) journey

Gregory Hall positive thinking d&i

Gregory Hall became involved in Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in the hospitality industry 12 years ago and has continued to be a pioneer. In this Q&A, he shares his journey, perspectives and the strategy for D&I at bartlett mitchell.

Why is D&I important to you?

During the earlier years of my career I realised how important diversity is for the hospitality industry. It’s a melting pot of people from different backgrounds comprising teams, clients and customers with an array of views and cultures.

The hospitality industry isn’t just about food and service. It’s about the whole experience. This includes diverse experiences coming from diverse individuals. It starts with how the food is prepared and ends with how the customer feels when they leave.

Front of mind should always be “hospitality is the lasting impression that others create”.

I encourage everyone to be an ambassador for D&I and to treat each other with respect. This means that we should take time to understand something different and someone else’s challenges.

Start by finding someone who is not like you. For instance; LGBT+, man/woman, person of faith (Muslim, Catholic, Christian) or even someone whose style is different to yours. You’ll begin to understand their challenges and a different point of view.

We are all different which makes us all amazing, both in our personal lives and within the working environment.

One of the hardest things I do each day is re-live that terrifying moment when I first came out to my family and friends that I’m different. As a gay man, I have to come out each day to my clients, customers and co-workers when they ask me questions about myself.

I’ve shared with you my terrifying moment and recognise that your story might be different from mine. So, from whatever walk of life you are from or diverse group, I ask you to be respectful, kind and inclusive to everyone you meet!

Who influences you (people and companies) and who do you admire for the way they have led on D&I?

I first learnt that diversity is critical to an organisation’s success during my time working at a large global investment bank. As an openly gay man, I was inspired by the bank’s LGBT+ network’s efforts to encourage everyone to bring their whole self to work. I wanted to learn more and educate those who didn’t understand the challenges of being LGBT+. To help others I decided to join their LGBT+ Committee.

This experience allowed me to learn more about the different challenges faced by LGBT+ people within the UK and Internationally. The group’s remit covered Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia and what I learnt shocked me.

Following the success I had with the LGBT+ Committee, I then helped the bank create an Ally programme which supported LGBT+ people in the workplace. The Ally programme focused on educating and recruiting allies of this minority LGBT+ group. Before leaving BAML in 2015, the bank had recruited more than 10,000 allies around the world. This meant better visibility and supporting allies to LGBT+ people. The aim was that they felt more comfortable to be themselves in the workplace. It was a huge success for the company, but the biggest take-out for me were the heart-felt stories that were shared.

I won a global D&I award in special recognition for this work.

Daniel Docherty was the Co-Chair for the LGBT+ Committee and Creator and Co-Chair of the Global Ally programme. Daniel inspired me from the start. He gave me a powerful insight into the world of D&I, not just within the UK but globally too. This provided me with an opportunity to attend diversity seminars in America. Daniel continues to inspire me today; he continues to root for positive change for all diversity groups.

Why did you get involved and take it to the bm board? 

I wanted to lead the strategic review and help set our company’s future goals. I know that D&I sits at the heart of a successful business. And I am passionate that it should align with our values and goals. I believe there should be constant positive change in our inclusion of all minority groups. This will better position us to continue our success but also ensures our team is enriched by inclusion and equality.

What will bm gain by implementing a D&I strategy?

By implementing our D&I strategy, our teams’ morale will increase. We will start to attract other external talent, especially from under-represented areas.

We currently publish our gender pay gap but we also are keen to publish the new ethnicity pay gap. It will also give us a clear strategic view of how we address our gender balance and BAME population across all our spectrum of roles.

Besides D&I being the right thing to do, we also have legal obligations. The Equality Act ensures training takes place and our teams understand the importance of diversity at work.

It’s also important to recognise that our clients want us to lead as well as mirror their diversity efforts. Having a robust D&I strategy will improve business retention and make us a more attractive partner to potential clients.

By attracting a diverse team, our team is enriched with people from many cultures and perspectives. Research shows that diversity increases creativity and innovation. All are at the heart of a dynamic and successful organisation.

What’s the difference between diversity and inclusivity?

Diversity is the ‘what’ and Inclusivity is the ‘how’. Diversity is about understanding that each individual is unique (race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity) and recognising our individual differences. Inclusivity is about creating a culture that values, respects and supports everyone. And ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their potential.

What common barriers to diversity and inclusion do you see in business?

There are a few common barriers across the industry and they span all diversity groups. A few examples are a lack of gender balance at chef and head chef level and a low number of people from BAME backgrounds at supervisory and management levels.

How will you influence our business culture and behaviour?

I will inspire our teams to talk about what inclusion means to them. It all starts with I. Individuals make positive change. We need to ensure our teams see that we genuinely care about diversity and more important, inclusion. I will make sure we walk the talk.

Wendy Bartlett says “What gets measured gets done!” How will you go about establishing a set of D&I KPIs?

Measuring our success will be key in both physical numbers and also our team’s emotional response.

We already capture some information around our team’s diversity. We want to go further and will be launching our ‘measuring and monitoring’ programme. This will allow us to capture information that wasn’t consistently asked for in the past (i.e. ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation). This will allow us to create a baseline for our future D&I KPIs and help us focus on priority areas.

We currently have two methods of collecting this information. One for external recruitment (using our HARRI recruitment platform) and the other is our internal annual survey.

What do you think some of the biggest challenges are?

With all programmes relating to people, some of the biggest challenges may be our team member’s understanding of why we need to change. This can sometimes be due to upbringing, education or way of thinking. This can usually be overcome through further understanding and relating the change to positivity and someone close to them (like their Mum or BAME friend).

Budget will always be a challenge but specifically during these Covid-19 times where costs need to be kept low. But with creativity- which we have in abundance I am confident we will find a way.

What will keep you going when things are hard?

Celebrating key successes and most important, sharing the positive impact of change and our team’s personal inspiring stories.

What will success look like in 2025? 

Increased diversity activities across our sector, industry collaboration to tackle the challenges ahead and sharing best practice. Driving forward our commitments made within the BITC Race at Work Charter and the WiHTL Diversity Charter. Achieving our company goals – better inclusion and equality for all across our minority groups driven by our diversity efforts.

LBGT–  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender

BAME – Black, Asian and minority ethnic