The CSR gambit: How socially responsible are Hotels in India?
Updated: Feb 12
“Enactment of Companies Act, 2013 by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India was one of the World's largest experiments of introducing the CSR as a mandatory provision by imposing statutory obligation on Companies to take up CSR projects towards social welfare activities. This has made India the only country which has regulated and mandated CSR for some select categories of companies registered under the Act. This CSR Initiative will push the nation towards achievement of sustainable development goals and public-private partnership in transforming India.”
Given the special status and governmental focus on CSR in India, where does the Hotel industry stand?
CSR and related efforts have been shaping up to be a vital contribution to society in general. According to GoI statistics, the total amount spent on CSR has grown from 10066 crores in 2014-15 to 13624 crores in 2017-18.
To quote a few examples, The Indian Hotels Company Limited (TATA Group) has spent 5.2 crores in 2017-18 as CSR spendings and Oberoi Hotels Pvt. Ltd. has spent 0.5 crores in the same year. The Corporate Social Responsibility concept in India is governed by Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 and Rules made thereunder wherein the criteria has been provided for assessing the CSR eligibility of a company, Implementation and Reporting of their CSR Policies. India having the most elaborated CSR mechanism and implementation strategy has started its journey to set a benchmark in attaining sustainability goals and stakeholder activism in nation building.
Amidst the worry of revenue, profit and brand marketing, Hotels in India are also stepping up to contribute beyond their CSR compliance.
Hotel companies are involved in the gamut of causes ranging from social to environmental and beyond. For example, Hilton Group of Hotels, in addition to many other CSR initiatives, aims to reduce the water consumption by 50% by 2030. Whereas, Marriott International last year launched "Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction," which basically branded and broadened the wide range of social initiatives across its 30 global brands, including some of the more innovative ones that came with its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The Lemon Tree Hotel Company has set a brilliant model on CSR by opening its doors for People with Disabilities (PWDs). Even before Corporate Social Responsibility took centre stage in every major company’s philosophy, The Leela Mumbai had set its mark on responsible growth by landscaping wide swathes of urban property with over 6000 coconut palms and thousands of trees to beautify and cleanse the air. The overarching aim of ITC's (ITC Hotels) social sector engagement is to empower stakeholder communities to conserve, augment and manage their social and environmental capital in order to promote sustainable livelihoods or employability on a significant scale. In addition to the big players of Hotel industry in India, independent regional hotels are also coming forward to do their bit for society. For instance, Saavaj Resort in Sasan Gir, Gujarat does not charge anything for every girl child staying at the property, as a humanitarian policy. The idea of offering free stays to all the girls below 18 years, is a step towards eliminating the taboo associated with daughters.
Local and Global Hotel brands are all offering admirable services, beautiful products and unique experiences to the guests. What sets your brand apart is something to think about- if you aspire to make it a sustainable business in the long-run. Along with financial gains and growth, a brand carries responsibility to contribute to the social and environmental impact. Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR is today not just a compliance but more of a thoughtful effort- local and global brands are going out of their way to give back to the society and environment. This sets a great stage for other brands to follow and adopt policies to make social and environmental impact.
Let's acknowledge the efforts by brands like Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Taj Hotels, ITC Hotels, Radisson, Lemon Tree Hotels and Hyatt Hotels . for setting a right example. Moreover, smaller regional hotel brands are also stepping up and contributing to the society in their own way. ProMiller makes sure to include Social, Environmental and Humanitarian policies in the hotels managed by us. We hope that the Hotels & Hospitality industry in India owns up to the social and environmental responsibility, since the guests and general populace is ready to reciprocate such efforts. More often than not, such efforts from the brand's part directly translate to a higher brand value.