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Questex/McLean Events (Spatec/SIBEC)
Questex/McLean Events (Spatec/SIBEC)
Questex/McLean Events (Spatec/SIBEC)
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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

News

Wellness industry urgently requires diversification of workforce, says Rianna Riego

Industry consultant and self-claimed 'wellness passionista', Rianna Riego, believes the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has reawakened society to the reality of a system that still discriminates on the basis of colour, gender, age and religion – and the spa industry is no exception.

“Being a darker-skinned female and immigrant from a third world country, my career path in the US has been ‘coloured’ with many stories of bias and discrimination,” Riego told Spa Business.

“These experiences, unfortunately, at times included my beloved spa industry, which prides itself on being a diverse tribe of professionals. My personal experience of bias has tended to be subtle and part of the power dynamics within a company, but other incidents were more apparent.”

For example, after 20 years of experience opening, operating, designing and rebranding spas and wellness facilities, Riego had the opportunity to be the face and voice of a brand that she helped envision and develop.

“I was surprised to hear that some of the ownership weren’t comfortable with the idea of me representing the brand,” she explained, “I knew this wasn’t related to my levels of qualification but instead was due to the fact I was older and not white.”

At another facility, Riego shared that she was astonished when a co-owner scolded her for hiring a black male director for fear of ‘scaring’ the predominantly Jewish guests who may find his presence intimidating.

She also went on to say that she has extensive firsthand experience of guests indicating a preference to not have black, Hispanic, gay or older therapists, either verbally or by changing or cancelling their appointments.

“The spa experience is very personal and there are levels of comfort we should respect, but is the discomfort from a white woman being touched by a male African American therapist a cultural issue or privacy right? What should the ideals of our industry be and where do we draw the line?”

Riego feels these complex problems are exacerbated by sexism in the industry.

“Even in a female-dominated workforce, women aren’t fully represented in the corporate decision-making process or hierarchy in the industry in general,” she said.

Looking ahead towards solutions, Riego feels the demand for wellness services is growing but the experienced workforce is shrinking.

“Our industry has not been able to attract a proper representation of the millennial workforce which is now closer to 50 per cent non-white.

She believes it’s now crucial that the next-generation workforce sees more diversity at the helm currently, in order to attract them in future.

“As an industry that started out wanting to heal the world, we need to rediscover and articulate its commitment to humanity and that service is noble – this is our strength and we should champion it.

“Our industry was borne out of a passion to care for others and now has an opportunity to help heal the world while redefining how the world views wellness – as a lifestyle choice that embraces diversity as its norm.

“Make no mistake, my business success is due not only to my hard work but from people of all backgrounds believing in and supporting me. We can choose to reflect the good and tolerant in society and in doing so, set an example and attract a larger diverse workforce and customer.”

Industry consultant and self-claimed 'wellness passionista', Rianna Riego, believes the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has reawakened society to the reality of a system that still discriminates on the basis of colour, gender, age and religion – and the spa industry is no exception.
SAB,CPW,CAS,WCM,PHR
2020/THUMB345918_646194_305869.jpg
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News

Wellness industry urgently requires diversification of workforce, says Rianna Riego

Industry consultant and self-claimed 'wellness passionista', Rianna Riego, believes the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has reawakened society to the reality of a system that still discriminates on the basis of colour, gender, age and religion – and the spa industry is no exception.

“Being a darker-skinned female and immigrant from a third world country, my career path in the US has been ‘coloured’ with many stories of bias and discrimination,” Riego told Spa Business.

“These experiences, unfortunately, at times included my beloved spa industry, which prides itself on being a diverse tribe of professionals. My personal experience of bias has tended to be subtle and part of the power dynamics within a company, but other incidents were more apparent.”

For example, after 20 years of experience opening, operating, designing and rebranding spas and wellness facilities, Riego had the opportunity to be the face and voice of a brand that she helped envision and develop.

“I was surprised to hear that some of the ownership weren’t comfortable with the idea of me representing the brand,” she explained, “I knew this wasn’t related to my levels of qualification but instead was due to the fact I was older and not white.”

At another facility, Riego shared that she was astonished when a co-owner scolded her for hiring a black male director for fear of ‘scaring’ the predominantly Jewish guests who may find his presence intimidating.

She also went on to say that she has extensive firsthand experience of guests indicating a preference to not have black, Hispanic, gay or older therapists, either verbally or by changing or cancelling their appointments.

“The spa experience is very personal and there are levels of comfort we should respect, but is the discomfort from a white woman being touched by a male African American therapist a cultural issue or privacy right? What should the ideals of our industry be and where do we draw the line?”

Riego feels these complex problems are exacerbated by sexism in the industry.

“Even in a female-dominated workforce, women aren’t fully represented in the corporate decision-making process or hierarchy in the industry in general,” she said.

Looking ahead towards solutions, Riego feels the demand for wellness services is growing but the experienced workforce is shrinking.

“Our industry has not been able to attract a proper representation of the millennial workforce which is now closer to 50 per cent non-white.

She believes it’s now crucial that the next-generation workforce sees more diversity at the helm currently, in order to attract them in future.

“As an industry that started out wanting to heal the world, we need to rediscover and articulate its commitment to humanity and that service is noble – this is our strength and we should champion it.

“Our industry was borne out of a passion to care for others and now has an opportunity to help heal the world while redefining how the world views wellness – as a lifestyle choice that embraces diversity as its norm.

“Make no mistake, my business success is due not only to my hard work but from people of all backgrounds believing in and supporting me. We can choose to reflect the good and tolerant in society and in doing so, set an example and attract a larger diverse workforce and customer.”

Industry consultant and self-claimed 'wellness passionista', Rianna Riego, believes the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has reawakened society to the reality of a system that still discriminates on the basis of colour, gender, age and religion – and the spa industry is no exception.
SAB,CPW,CAS,WCM,PHR
2020/THUMB345918_646194_305869.jpg

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Establishing new data and insight services and strengthening relationships with both government and the NHS
More than one in five (27 per cent) Americans belonged to a health club or
Ultimate Performance (UP) – the private gym chain and PT business – has opened a
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Bryce Hastings, head of research at Les Mills, explains the latest research into exercise motivation, giving tips on how to engage hard-to-reach members
HCM Magazine
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As Elevate returns to the market, we talk to director Lucy Findlay about how the event has come together
HCM magazine
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HCM People

Jeremy McCarthy

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Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Fitness industry to gather at Sibec Europe-UK in Portugal this September
Questex’s iconic event Sibec Europe-UK – known as Europe’s leading hosted buyer event for the fitness industry – will take place from 27-30 September at the Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort, in Portugal.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: EGYM announces integration with software provider Fisikal
EGYM has announced an integration with a leading UK-based software company Fisikal to enhance its capabilities to serve the needs of enterprise customers running multi-site operations.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: New partnership delivers swimming support to children with disabilities
A new partnership has been launched to provide inclusive swimming for children with mobility, visual and hearing disabilities.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: New £42m Moorways Sports Village to open on 21 May
Everyone Active will open Moorways Sports Village to the public on Saturday 21 May with a grand opening weekend – in time for the half term holidays.
Company profiles
Company profile: Virtuagym
Virtuagym is a global provider of health and fitness technology for coaching, engagement and management ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Life Fitness
The Life Fitness family of brands offers an unrivalled product portfolio, providing customers with access ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
On demand
Fitness On Demand: On demand
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Whole body cryotherapy
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Fitness equipment
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Diary dates
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Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
Diary dates
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Diary dates
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