Is it lonely at the top? Not for Hilton, which this year becomes the first non-tech company to head up our list two years in a row. And, says CEO Chris Nassetta—who took over in 2007 and has been on a mission to reinvent Hilton’s culture ever since—it helps to have 430,000 employees worldwide pushing the company forward. “It doesn’t matter that we’re No. 1. We’re not done,” Nassetta recently told Fortune. Hilton is constantly finding ways to “learn and will continue to change,” he says.
One of Nassetta’s chief aims has been to improve benefits across the company’s wide spectrum of employees, from housekeepers to HR managers. In the last year, Hilton extended its parental leave policy, guaranteeing 12 weeks of paid time off for new mothers, and four for fathers and adoptive parents. The company also partnered with the startup Milk Stork, enabling team members to easily ship or carry breast milk when traveling for work, for free. 2020 will also see the continued rollout of a new employee stock purchase program—at all levels of the company, regardless of position. And Hilton employees continue to enjoy a travel program that allows team members to become customers themselves at locations around the world at highly discounted rates.
“We try to care for our people in the right way so they will care for our customers,” Nassetta says. “And as a result of doing good things for our people, we are doing very well.” Sure enough, through the first three quarters of 2019 (year-end results are expected later in February), Hilton generated $7 billion in total revenues, up from $6.6 billion during the same period the year before. The company opened 470 new hotels in 2019, for a total of more than 6,100 global properties.
Nassetta has often spoken of his desire to reorient the company’s North Star over his 13-year tenure. With Hilton expanding into new territory, and employees championing the company, it seems clear he has succeeded. Says the CEO: “There’s nothing I’m prouder of in my career than what we’ve done with this culture.”
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