Swissôtel’s sustainability focuses on communities and colleagues

Swissotel's sustainability progress to 2014

Swissotel's sustainability progress to 2014

Swissôtel, part of FRHI – Fairmont Hotels & Resorts – has put its focus on supporting communities as a responsible business within their latest sustainability update. The company has also turned the spotlight on providing a safe and responsible work environment for its employees.

Introducing the report, Vice-President Lilian Roten said, “Swissôtel firmly believes that successful business and a corporate responsibility for sustainable development go hand-in-hand. We consider corporate sustainability in all aspects of our business to ensure that customers, team members, the environment, local communities and all our stakeholders understand and benefit from what we do.

“This is a critical statement, since a hotel structure usually requires a large quantity of resources, and is always strongly rooted in the community where it operates. We present in this document a large number of local stories – which may serve as good practices for the entire industry.”

The report highlights Swissôtel’s progress towards its 2017 sustainability goals. By 2014 it had reduced its energy consumption by 27% and its CO2 by 25%. Water use was down by 18%. Recognising that sustainable innovation is a journey, the report says, “Strategy, sustainability and innovation go hand in hand. Strategy is a value-based framework, innovating value for all stakeholders. Which is why our Brand Strategy lives by the sustainable way we look after people, planet and profit. We have evolved from reactive behaviour to a systematic approach, going beyond processes and standards towards leading with a vision. This lets us foster and harness creativity and innovation, so we can run effective and efficient hotels.”

Swissôtel highlight that they use design to boost the efficiency of their hotels. The report says, “An enormous amount of energy, materials and resources is required for building, operating or renovating large properties like hotels. This can be reduced effectively by the intelligent and sustainable design of the structure and its interior, including appliances and fixtures.”

Addressing their environmental responsibilities, the report says, “We consider the environment to be one of the most significant and challenging components of sustainable development.

Listing their environmental initiatives they say, “Human activity impacts the environment in various ways, including climate change, water scarcity, deforestation and land overuse. At Swissôtel, we are committed to improving and reducing our impact on the environment by:

  • monitoring emissions, identifying and acting upon trends or issues
  • promoting energy efficiency
  • reducing waste and recycling all materials possible
  • offering guests the opportunity to participate in programmes to reduce their environmental impact
  • investigating all complaints and non-compliances and acting on our findings
  • reporting monthly and annually on environmental performance
  • ensuring that environmental training is provided to team members
  • joining appropriate environmental initiatives and groups

Practical examples include The Stamford, Singapore which from 2013 to 2014,  increased the amount of recycled food waste by 22.7% to 48 tons, turning scraps into organic fertiliser for the hotel’s herb garden, which in turn supplies organically grown herbs, vegetables, fruit and edible flowers to all of the hotel’s F&B outlets.

Swissôtel has identified issues in its labour market and taken steps to address these. Health & Safety has been made a priority with training put in place and shared learning between properties helping to reduce the instances of incidents. They’ve also focused on vitality, helping to improve the wellbeing of guests and colleagues.

For example at the Swissôtel Chicago, team members and guests are engaged in weekly calendars with daily activities: Vitality run, boot camp and power breaks. These are hosted either by the hotel’s general manager or head of departments. Some activities are offered at times convenient for team members (e.g. 3 pm for Housekeeping) and exercises are tailored to the age of the participants. This promotes a higher level of colleague engagement and overall physical health. Vitality for team members also includes tailored menus at the colleague canteen and a step away from traditional colleague uniforms.

The report says, “At Swissôtel, sustainability means we engage with our team members and refine our leadership capabilities, to inspire and create a dynamic, high-spirited and fun work environment.”

The company has also looked at issues of diversity within its workforce. With almost 12% of its employees aged over 50 years, they are happy with their generational diversity but they have highlighted some other areas they are keen to address. They point out:

  • turnover lies at 37.66%
  • internal promotion has risen slightly to 11.66%
  • the proportion of female team members is 35.51%
  • and the rate of female managers is 36.73%

The report acknowledges, “Such average performance is structurally linked to the nature of the hotel industry. Although we perform better than our competition, it is still much lower than in other industries and therefore requires our attention.”

The company highlights its policy to support local charities and community organisations, including its long-term ongoing support of SOS Children’s Villages. At Since 2013, Swissôtel Kolkata has supported a young adult from the local SOS Children’s Village in their education at the State Hotel Management Institute. Tuition fees paid by the hotel total INR 123,500 per year (approx. USD 1,900 per year). The candidate also receives hands-on experience at Swissôtel Kolkata during a short-term internship.

It’s refreshing to see a hotel group not only focus on their successes but to highlight the challenges they’re committed to improving, and to see such a high priority given within the company not just to reducing environmental impacts but to improving the working life of colleagues. Labour rights issues and human rights within a hotel’s community are not often given such a high level focus and Swissôtel are one of the industry’s leaders in this regard. It will be interesting to see their continued progress toward their 2017 goals.

However, Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts’ sustainable management practices are now embedded in the overall, companywide FRHI Hotels & Resort Corporate Social Responsibility programme. This parent brand hosts the brands Swissôtel, Fairmont and Raffles and will handle the reporting of their environmental, responsible and sustainable programmes going forward.

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