Sophia Hyder Hock is the first-ever Chief Diversity Officer for Destinations International, a global association for destination organizations. As a lifelong advocate for social inclusion, entrepreneur, and yoga and meditation instructor, Sophia brings a unique perspective to her role. She takes pride in her Bengali and Indian heritage, being a first-generation American. Her love for travel has been a driving force in her life, motivating her to be a better person and advocate for greater diversity and inclusion in the travel industry. 

Sophia Hyder Hock
Chief Diversity Officer, Destinations International

What inspired you to work in the international association sector? Would you recommend this career to others?  

The ability to make an impact is what inspired me to work at Destinations International. There isn’t clear guidance on how to create a welcoming environment that considers the unique identities of travelers around the world. My goal is to develop ways to take action and implement authentic strategies through our association pillars: community, education, advocacy, and research.

I highly recommend a career in an association. In the travel industry, each day brings a new idea, or an opportunity to solve a challenge. The possibilities are endless and span a variety of professional interests.

How does your association #EmbraceEquity? Does giving a voice and a space to diverse groups make for better results? What are the challenges you encounter? Did you solve them? 

Our association embraces equity by investing in my position – someone dedicated to creating more equitable and inclusive spaces internally for our team and externally for our members. Providing a brave space for diverse voices brings light to different perspectives – something that is key to growth, a healthier environment, and long-term change. 

This work is challenging because change is difficult, and understanding different perspectives can be vulnerable. We haven’t solved these issues yet, but we have identified how to address them through education, services, and tools that answer the following questions: « What if my destination isn’t diverse enough? » and « How do I get started? »

How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future success of associations? What initiatives, projects, and ideas can you share that help others understand the real value of DEI? 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to the future success and growth of associations. In March 2023, Destinations International will release our working definition of ‘equity, diversity, and inclusion’ for our members and the wider public to understand the various dimensions of creating welcoming and inclusive spaces for all – communities and visitors alike. 

We are developing professional development certifications, resources, and research – and already have an EDI Assessment tool that helps destination organizations understand where they are in their journey while also holding them accountable for taking actionable steps.