Hotel Housekeeper Says Adding Her to Corporate Board Means Adding Compassion
December 11, 2012
In a conference call to bloggers, Cathy Youngblood, a 61-year-old housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood, said that there were many things she enjoyed about being a housekeeper.
"I get to meet the world," she said. "I have a real bond with the other women I work with. I also take pride in working in a field where I give comfort and pleasure to people when the travel."
Youngblood is one of many Hyatt housekeepers who will be asking Hyatt Hotels to add a hotel worker to their board of directors this week. The hotel workers feel the impact of having "someone like me" to also represent the hotel would create a better company for both employees and shareholders.
"I care about my job, but also I see how things could be better," Youngblood said. "That's why Hyatt needs someone like me on its Board of Directors. The current corporate officers might have business sense, but I have common sense. There are challenges to being a housekeeper. Everyday the work is exhausting and physically debilitating. And management doesn't always really listen when we have ideas about how to make the work safer or more efficient."
Current board members include Tom and Penny Pritzker of the billionaire Pritzker family, Hyatt's CEO Mark Hoplamazian, and Greg Penner, an heir to the Walmart fortune, among others. Other board members have ties to Goldman Sachs, private equity firms worth billions, and major brands like Royal Caribbean.
"Let's face it," Youngblood begins, "none of the board members actually works in a hotel. They might run big companies like Walmart, Macy's and Royal Caribbean. But they don't understand the physical operations of the hotel in the way that I do, because I clean rooms every day. I scrub floors, I lift heavy mattresses to change the sheets, I deal with guests daily. When there's an emergency, who does management call? A housekeeper. Bad spills, overflowing toilets, clogged drains. These situations can be the difference between a guest's stay being a delight or a disaster. Someone like me understands the common sense solutions to make hotel operations run smoothly."
Youngblood says she would advocate for major changes at non-union hotels if she were to be put on the Hyatt corporate board. "If someone like me were on Hyatt's board of directors, I would make sure that housekeepers had a reasonable workload." She adds that a housekeeper like her on the board adds compassion for women who clean rooms and who take pride in getting the job done.
"Common sense would tell you to leave a place better than when you found it," Youngblood says. "Someone like me on Hyatt's board of directors would work hard to make the company better for future generations of Hyatt workers. It's time that someone like me have a real say at Hyatt."
Learn more at www.hyatthurts.org.