Vivek Sharma, CEO of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, has resigned from several tourism boards and apologized after making sexist comments at a tourism industry conference earlier this month.
According to witnesses at the B.C. Tourism and Hospitality Conference in Richmond on March 9, Sharma asked for women to stand and be celebrated for International Women’s Day then told them to “go clean rooms” and “do dishes”.
Since then, the CEO has faced online backlash, prompting a written apology released a week after his comments.
“I am very sorry and deeply regret the insensitive and inappropriate comments I made at the start of last week’s BC Tourism & Hospitality Conference. Not only did my words cause distress for several women in the audience but I also offended many other delegates,” Sharma wrote.
Sharma has resigned from his position on the board for the Tourism Industry Association of BC and the BC Hospitality Association. He has also been placed on leave from his position as CEO of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort — which is a resort in the community of Fairmont Hot Springs and is not affiliated with the Fairmont hotel chain — while they conduct an independent review into his comments.
“Any discrimination is not acceptable and Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is dedicated to creating an inclusive and diverse atmosphere, where people feel safe to work, visit or conduct business with,” Fairmont Hot Springs Resort said in a statement.
BCHA president Ingrid Jarrett and TIABC CEO Walt Judas released a joint statement this week condemning Sharma’s comments.
“What was originally intended as a salute and acknowledgement of the tremendous contribution, talent, skill and professionalism of our tourism and hospitality colleagues, instead, resulted in a stark reminder of how far we have to go to achieve equality, respect and empowerment for the women of our sector,” they wrote.
“We sincerely apologize for the harm this disparaging remark caused.”