This past week Marriott International released its 2021 Serve 360 Report presenting data from 2020 and demonstrating its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts toward the company’s 2025 Sustainability and Social Impact Goals. Due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the travel industry and Marriott, the company experienced a sharp decline in hotel occupancy, which is reflected in its economic, social impact, and environmental performance and progress against its Serve 360 Goals.
The industry pays attention to what Marriott does for many reasons, especially given its size—more than 7,642 properties and growing and 321,000 associates—but also because of its history of ESG leadership. I encourage you to read the report yourself (find it here). It is 86 pages long. Of course, this report comes with a great sense of loss. Marriott lost its President & CEO, Arne Sorenson, to cancer early this year.
Guided by four coordinates (Nurture Our World, Sustain Responsible Operations, Empower Through Opportunity, Welcome All and Advance Human Rights)—each with dedicated focus areas, Marriott actively executes on compelling, impactful initiatives around the world to drive positive change that supports critical United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
It is difficult to pull out the top highlights of the report but here are some of them:
- It set a goal to have people of color make up at least 25 percent of U.S. company leadership.
- Given the impact of climate change, it set a 2021 goal to submit its commitment to setting a science-based target to the Science Based Target initiative.
- The company is on track for a 30 percent reduction in carbon intensity by 2025 (2016 baseline). That said, it does not consider this target to be achieved, because most of the emissions reductions occurred due to low occupancy at Marriott hotels in 2020. Marriott will continue to reevaluate its progress, as normal operating conditions return, and continue to implement programs that reduce energy usage at its properties.
- A total of 32 percent of properties have been certified to a recognized sustainability standard.
- It is ahead of its schedule of having 250 adaptive reuse projects by 2025 with 184 currently open.
- It is on target of having 100 percent of on-property associates complete human rights training.
- To provide critical support to it most at-risk associates, the Marriott Disaster Relief Fund was deployed and distributed over $1.45 million of food, medications, hygiene items, and other essential items to associates in 16 markets.
- In 2020, Marriott associates contributed over 500,000 volunteer hours across the globe, focusing on environmental and social issues that impact the communities where it does business.
- In 2020, it began focusing on its annual water reduction targets, which included increasing compliance with MESH, its environmental reporting system.
- In 2020, Marriott hotels continued to evaluate and implement bottled water alternatives to reduce single-use plastic consumption. For example, five hotels in the Asia Pacific region installed in-house glass water bottle refill systems. The Westin Kuala Lumpur installed its own water bottling plant, with the goal of removing all single-use plastic water bottles from the hotel, eliminating over 400,000 plastic bottles of water each year.
- The company’s switch from small toiletry bottles to residential-sized amenities, while temporarily paused by the pandemic, has restarted with an ongoing rollout through June 2022. When fully implemented across the globe, the program is expected to prevent approximately 500 million tiny bottles annually from going to landfills.
- In 2020, 21 percent of eggs purchased were cage-free.
- On February 24, 2021, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation announced a $20 million endowment to establish the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership in honor of Arne Sorenson. The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation endowment will launch the Center at Howard University, one of the leading historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States.
I have barely scratched the surface of the highlights of Marriott’s progress in 2020. Once again, look at the report. It may give you some ideas for programs you can start at your hotel or company. At the very least it will describe the efforts of a company on a never-ending quest for continuous improvement—in all areas of operations.
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