Names: Alex Smith and Leigh Deforest
Titles: Alex: Director of Social Purpose and Analytics; Leigh: Social Purpose and Sustainability Manager
Company: Legacy Vacation Resorts, Orlando, Fla.
Years in Current Position: Alex: Nine months; Leigh: Four months
Primary Responsibilities: Alex: “Ensuring that Legacy Vacation Resorts is achieving the highest social purpose impact possible, supporting team fundamentals, helping to work through objectives, and communicating with the leadership team.”
Organization’s most significant accomplishment in global corporate responsibility: Alex: “Becoming a B Corp. was a big step. It took a lot to certify and get tested.”
Organization’s most significant challenge moving forward in global corporate responsibility: Alex: “Team member and guest education. We need to make sure our team members understand why we do what we do.”
ORLANDO—The duo has not been with Legacy Vacation Resorts (LVR) that long—Alex Smith for nine months and Leigh Deforest for four months—but the pair have successfully built upon the triple bottom line business approach set forth by Jared Meyers, Chairman of the company.
“We are driving to be a collaborative steward in the hospitality industry,” Alex says. “We are a B Corp. We really believe in the triple bottom line.”
It was early last year that LVR announced it had achieved Certified B Corporation Status, becoming the first multi-state hotel and vacation ownership company in the country to secure the prestigious designation. Administered by the nonprofit, B Lab, Certified B Corporations are businesses that voluntarily meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose through third-party review.
2025 Targets Divided Into Three Areas
Certified B Corp. standards are reflected in the 2025 Positive Impact Targets currently in place for LVR. The targets are divided into three areas: Social Impact, Community, and Eco-Friendly. One example of a Social Impact goal: 25 percent increase in local and responsible B Corp. suppliers. One example of a Community goal: 30 percent of employees participate in volunteer Day of Hope opportunity. One example of an Eco-Friendly goal: create and execute a 100 percent renewable energy plan.
“We are leading with data,” Alex says. “We are tracking our sustainable development goals. We are improving leadership and representation of color. We are also focusing on civic education. On energy we are making strides.”
On the waste management front LVR is set on eliminating single-use plastics by next year—10,000 pounds annually. It uses dispensers in guestroom showers, bamboo and paper keycards, and guests are given reusable bottles upon check-in that they can fill at multiple water filtration stations on-site.
By 2023, LVR wants to implement carbon labeling for all vacations booked. “We are also looking at doing more native landscaping,” Alex says.
Leigh says the company’s Indian Shores, Fla. property is a blueprint of what the company is aiming to do from a sustainability perspective. Opened earlier this year, recycling bins are provided throughout the resort, water bottle refilling stations are at select areas to encourage minimizing the need for single use plastics, green cleaning products are used by housekeeping staff and complimentary electric vehicle chargers are available for guest use. In the bathrooms, small amenity bottles have been replaced by refillable wall-mounted units to eliminate unnecessary waste. For direct bookings, the company also secures carbon offsets for every guest stay. Signage through the property also educates guests on the B Corp standing and offers suggestions on different ways they too can reduce their impact on the environment during their stay as well as inspiring more mindful habits back at home.
LVR just kicked off social program month. There is a five-module program available in Spanish and English.
Guests can watch a video on their in-room TV that explains the company’s values.
In Support of Florida for Good
Jared Meyers co-founded the Florida for Good movement, which funds free resources and events to facilitate the spread of business for good and the Certified B Corporation program. Since its inception, Legacy Vacation Resorts has donated more than $80,000 to Florida for Good’s charitable endeavors, with Meyers also dedicating a significant amount of his personal time and income to its growth. Both Alex and Leigh support the efforts of Florida for Good.
LVR has two full-time employees—Alex and Leigh—and eight social purpose champions dedicated to sustainability efforts. “We have a culture of cross-property communication,” Alex says.
When asked what they most enjoy about their work, Alex said, “The challenge. It is an ever-evolving function.” Added Leigh, “I enjoy that I get to work across all departments.”
Alex says his interest in sustainability has blossomed in the past five years. Adds Leigh, “I have always been highly passionate about the environment. I first admired Patagonia.”
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.