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Marriott CHRO David Rodriguez Puts Employee Well-Being First

Marriott International (No. 2 on The DiversityInc Top 50 list) Global Chief HR Officer David Rodriguez was named the Human Resource Executive HR Executive of the Year last week.

Rodriguez joined Marriott in 1998 as a senior vice president for corporate human resources and has been in his current role since 2006.

He was an integral part of Marriott’s merger with Starwood just over three years ago, President and CEO Arne Sorenson told Human Resource Executive in a profile of Rodriguez, recognizing his award.

“[The merger] was the largest influx of associates in company history,” Sorenson told the magazine. “David … stressed the common characteristics of our cultures rather than obsessing about process differences, which could easily become attributable to culture conflicts.”

Rodriguez told Human Resource Executive that he had three philosophies for integrating Starwood employees into the Marriott umbrella:

  1. Leaders must espouse and live core values.
  2. Core values should be based on fundamental human needs (in order to knit the organization together through common bonds).
  3. Leaders must empower employees to express core values in a personal way to animate the culture. (This not only further brings people together across generations and geographies, it creates a continuous cultural-renewal dynamic.)

Rodriguez has been at the forefront of Marriott’s prioritization of “cultural competence,” greenlighting the organization’s “Culture Days” initiative, which gives employees an opportunity to learn about different business and social customs that are central to a global organization like Marriott, which has properties in 130 countries and territories worldwide.

Rodriguez, who has a doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology from New York University, has been praised for his outside-the-box thinking.

HR Policy Association CEO Emeritus Jeffrey McGuiness told Human Resource Executive that Rodriguez, who also serves as the vice chair of the HR Policy Association, was a pioneer in using social media as a recruiting tool.

“Anytime I’ve had an unusual idea or a different take or approach on something, I’d always seek out David because he’s always open to some new angle, perspective or approach,” McGuiness said.

In his efforts to prioritize customer well-being, Rodriguez oversaw an initiative to help train employees on recognizing the signs of human trafficking, a major concern around the globe, but especially in the hotel industry.

“David Rodriguez is a courageous, visionary, empathetic and compassionate Chief Human Resources Officer,” DiversityInc founder and Chairman Luke Visconti said. “That he works for Marriott is no coincidence as the leadership of that organization has been successful because it cares for people, especially its hourly workers, better than just about any other corporation I know of. Marriott has ranked in the top half of our Top 50 list for the past 10 years, and in the Top 10 for the past four, including No. 2 on the current list. I am very proud to call David a friend.“

Marriott has focused not just on customer well-being, but also on employee well-being. The company’s TakeCare program, which is centered on taking care of the individual self, one another and the company, includes fitness events, financial-wellness tools, emotional health, career-development training and community involvement opportunities.

“We spend a huge portion of our lives with our employer,” Rodriguez told Human Resource Executive. “That’s why this notion of promoting employee well-being is so important — you’re literally partners with your employees’ life partners.”

Marriot International has appeared on The DiversityInc Top 50 list 18 of the last 19 years.

Other DiversityInc Lists for Marriott

  • No. 2 Diverse Leadership
  • No. 5 Executive Diversity Council
  • No. 5 Executive Women
  • No. 8 Mentoring
  • No. 6 Philanthropy
  • No. 10 Supplier Diversity
  • No. 8 Sponsorship
  • No. 11 Talent Acquisition
  • No. 5 Talent Acquisition for Women of Color
  • LGBT Employees

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