Name: Daniella Foster
Title: Senior Director, Global Corporate Responsibility
Years in Current Position: Two years, seven months
Primary Responsibilities: “I lead global strategy, business integration, youth economic opportunity, social and environmental investments, signature partnerships and ESG reporting across Hilton’s value chain.”
Organization’s most significant sustainability-related accomplishment: “Last year we relaunched Travel With Purpose with 2030 goals. Part of those 2030 goals included a lot of industry firsts.”
Organization’s most significant sustainability-related challenge moving forward: “The No. 1 challenge is to engage the guest in this journey and help them understand what sustainable travel looks like—the guest engagement piece and how we gamify that.”
MCLEAN, VA.—When Daniella Foster joined Hilton as Senior Director, Global Corporate Responsibility almost three years ago, she was tasked with thinking through what was going to be the company’s ambition and vision moving forward in corporate responsibility. The company already had a successful Travel with Purpose program, but it was time to do much more. “The real opportunity was to take a broader look and align our goals with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals,” Foster says.
That step of mirroring the U.N. goals has resulted in numerous industry firsts the last two years. In May 2018, Hilton announced it would cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030. With this commitment, Hilton became the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions and send zero soap to landfill.
At that time, Christopher J. Nassetta, President and CEO, Hilton, said, “For nearly 100 years, Hilton has been driven by our mission to have a positive impact on the communities surrounding our hotels. In this Golden Age of Travel, we are taking a leadership role to ensure that the destinations where travelers work, relax, learn and explore are vibrant and resilient for generations of adventurers yet to come.”
2030 Progress Documented on Hilton Site
Foster says that when Hilton set its new targets, it committed to being transparent about its progress. Today, anyone can follow Hilton’s steps toward its goals at the company’s website. For example, since 2008, Hilton has achieved a 34 percent reduction in Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon emissions. Seventy-five percent of hotels—more than 4,000 properties—now recycle soap. “We have recycled 96 million soap bars to date,” Foster says.
Last October, Hilton announced an initial investment of $1 million to drive sustainable travel and tourism in Africa. To do so, the company is focusing on five key areas—Hilton’s Big Five: Youth Opportunity, Water Stewardship, Local Sourcing, Protecting Wildlife, and preventing and stopping Human Trafficking.
“We have a business commitment to grow in Africa,” Foster says.
Foster represents Hilton at International Tourism Partnership (ITP) gatherings and helps support ITP initiatives. “We helped create goals around climate, youth, energy and water,” she says.
From day one with Hilton, Foster says the corporate culture has been particularly impressive to her. “Hospitality is truly in the DNA of the company. The spirit of hospitality is genuine here. Our guests see it every day,” she says. Just as genuine, she adds, is the company’s commitment to Travel With Purpose, Meet With Purpose, Connected Room, and all of the other initiatives that comprise the company’s commitment to corporate responsibility.
“We live and breathe this concept of creating this better world for travel,” Foster says.
Strong Leadership Background
Foster was previously the Director of Global Corporate Affairs for Mars Symbioscience, the in-house innovation incubator of Mars, Incorporated, a $35 billion private company. Foster also served as Partnerships Director at the U.S. Department of State, where she led the establishment of public-private partnerships to commit skills and capital for social impact in 165 countries. She was Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State’s Advisor, where she led a team implementing policy initiatives and partnerships designed to strengthen emerging democracies and civil society worldwide. She has worked on six continents, tripling growth in agreements with Fortune 500 companies, and was named a top foreign policy leader and featured in Washington Life Magazine as one of Washington’s most influential leaders.
She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and co-founded the Emergent Leaders Network to provide scholarships and mentoring to community college students. Foster holds an M.A. in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Intercultural Comms/Business from Pepperdine University.
“I have always had an interest in CSR and sustainability,” Foster says. “While working at the state department in international development, I saw the potential for business to be a positive change in the world.”
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.