story behind marriott lgbtq+ arg
Courtesy of Andris A.

Name: Andris A.
Position: Learning Manager
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Dream destinations: French Polynesia, Fiji and New Zealand
Drink or treat of choice: Root beer float, pumpkin pie and tiki drinks

Creating a safe workplace that fosters a sense of belonging for all employees requires certain words to be said and actions to be made at all levels of the company. Having a supportive supervisor and team, getting both positive and constructive feedback, and feeling safe to be yourself at work are a few features that contribute to a healthy work environment.

On the individual and team level, all of these examples are great to implement immediately. On the broader company level, having infrastructure in place to facilitate such inclusion is key. Our Associate Resources Groups (ARGs) aim to do just that. More than 6,000 associates from 99 countries have joined the company’s ARGs, all of which aim to foster a sense of belonging and community for associates of all identities and backgrounds.

Andris, a Learning Manager based in Chicago who is also the Global Communications Leader and co-chair of the Chicago chapter of the LGBTQ+|ONE ARG, says his involvement has leveled up his personal and professional life.

“It’s allowed me to meet a variety of people and get exposure to senior leadership where I otherwise would not have,” he says. “My involvement in the ARG has also provided me with a supportive community where I can be my authentic self and feel accepted. This has greatly boosted my confidence and allowed me to bring my whole self to work, ultimately leading to better performance and job satisfaction.”

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Now going on 18 years at Marriott International, Andris wears several different hats at the company. But, they have a style commonality: helping people. In his career as Learning Manager, Andris focuses on designing and delivering training programs for employees. Likewise, he sees his work with the ONE ARG as largely rooted in offering support.

“I believe that by creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ associates and guests, we can truly make a difference in people’s lives,” he says. “It’s important to continue to educate and raise awareness, and I am committed to helping make that happen within the Marriott family.”

Below, learn how Andris is making a difference at Marriott International—both through his work with LGBTQ+|ONE and as a Learning Manager.

Can you tell us about your Marriott career journey?

I started my career in 2000 with Marriott Vacation Club, our timeshare program, as a Management Trainee. In that program, I rotated through various operations departments including housekeeping, guest services and front office. After nearly two years as Front Desk Manager, I took time away from Marriott and owned a restaurant for some time. In 2008, I returned to the company as an Assistant Food and Beverage Manager at the Courtyard Chicago Downtown/River North.

In the years since, I’ve held a number of positions in different areas of the company. What led me to Learning Delivery was identifying how much I enjoy helping others and how frequently I’ve volunteered to train colleagues.

As Learning Manager, I sit on the Talent Development, Consumer Operations team, facilitating in-person and virtual training courses that support Sales, Marketing and Revenue Management teams. I also work closely with cross-functional teams to ensure there’s alignment with business goals and objectives.

story behind marriott lgbtq+ arg

Courtesy of Andris A.

How would you describe Marriott’s culture?

Marriott embraces diversity and values the unique perspectives and contributions of all individuals. The company actively promotes a culture of inclusion and belonging, creating a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ employees and guests. This inclusive culture is evident in Marriott’s policies, practices, and support for LGBTQ+ initiatives and organizations. Overall, Marriott’s culture is one of respect, acceptance, and celebration of diversity.

What motivated you to join the LGBTQ+|ONE resource group?

I first joined in 2015 to connect with other LGBTQ+ associates and allies, share experiences, and support each other in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment. The networking aspect of the group was also very attractive to me.

Being part of this group has enriched my experience at the company by providing me with a sense of community and belonging. It has also given me the opportunity to advocate for positive change within the organization. Being part of the LGBTQ+ resource group has been incredibly empowering and has strengthened my commitment to Marriott International.

story behind marriott lgbtq+ arg

Courtesy of Andris A.

What led you to your current leadership position within LGBTQ+|ONE?

In 2016, I became a co-chair of the Chicago chapter, and in 2017, I won the award for Chapter Member of the Year. In 2022, I was invited to join the ONE Global Council. Now, I’m the Global Communications Leader and co-chair of our Chicago chapter.

Being able to lead and support others in their journey to creating a more inclusive workplace has been incredibly fulfilling. Seeing the impact that our work has on the lives of our LGBTQ+ associates and allies is what drives me to continue in this role. It’s a constant reminder of the importance of diversity and inclusion, and the power of community in creating positive change. I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference and to be a voice for the LGBTQ+ community within Marriott International.

How has LGBTQ+|ONE has contributed to fostering a more inclusive and diverse workplace?

Where I feel our ARG can really shine is in small markets—places where LGBTQ+ rights aren’t necessarily as strong as they might be in certain progressive cities.

By raising awareness and providing resources and support, LGBTQ+|ONE has helped to foster a more inclusive and diverse workplace culture, where everyone feels valued and respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Through our initiatives and events, we have been able to educate and create allies, ultimately making a positive impact on our company’s overall culture and diversity.

story behind marriott lgbtq+ arg

Courtesy of Andris A.

What are your future goals within LGBTQ+|ONE?

Connecting with international associates and providing at least a virtual community is very important, like through our LGBTQ+|ONE instant messaging channel on Microsoft Teams. There’s also an opportunity to create more educational resources and training for all of our associates, which would help to ensure a more welcoming and supportive environment for everyone.

How would you describe your overall experience as a Marriott associate?

I have had great opportunities along my journey, and it always started with doing the very best I could in my current role and then networking for the roles I was interested in doing next. You must build your professional brand and share your goals with others at the right time. That way, when a position opens up, the leaders know your interest. I have also felt supported as a member of the LGBTQ+ community at Marriott. I’m proud to work for a company that values diversity and inclusion.

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