Home Publisher's Point of View On the Loss of Arne Sorenson, a Genuine Proponent of Equality, Sustainability

On the Loss of Arne Sorenson, a Genuine Proponent of Equality, Sustainability

Glenn Hasek

The ripple effect. That is what I often think about when someone passes away. What kind of impact did that person have on those he or she encountered along the way—that was then passed along to others?

I never got to meet Arne M. Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International but it is quite clear that he had an amazing positive impact on others in his personal life and in our industry for a long time. Arne passed away from pancreatic cancer on February 15. He was just the third CEO in Marriott’s history. He held the positions of both President and CEO since April 2012.

I asked Denise Naguib, Marriott’s Vice President, Sustainability and Supplier Diversity, about Arne’s impact and she told me: “Arne Sorenson was a true champion and an incredible advocate, epitomizing Marriott International’s sustainability and social impact platform’s tagline, Doing Good in Every Direction. He will be greatly missed, and we will carry his energy and support on these issues and more as we move through our ambitious goals. Arne was very connected to Marriott International’s goals on sustainability, social/community impact, human rights, and diversity.”

Green Lodging News, founded in 2006, first mentioned Arne in an article in February 2007 when Marriott announced its partnership with Clean the World. Can you imagine how many bars of soap were sent to those in need under Arne’s watch? Again, ripple effect. In that same article it was announced that Marriott had just formed a new senior-level sustainability council—the Global Green Council. Arne was the Council’s co-chairperson.

‘The Future of Business is Green’

A little more than a year later, Marriott and the state of Amazonas signed an agreement to support the first project of its kind to help protect 1.4 million acres of endangered rainforest. This innovative partnership between government and the private sector was one of the first in the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. At that time Arne said, “At Marriott, we believe the future of business is green. Building on a 20-year track record of responsible energy consumption and waste reduction, we believe rainforest preservation is critical to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.”

I suspect Arne’s stances on equality and sustainability were not always smiled upon by some in our industry but thank you Arne for recognizing that we are indeed all equal and that it is our responsibility to be caretakers of this planet while we are here. What Arne also knew was that being an outstanding Earth citizen and respecting others is exceptionally good business strategy.

The list of Marriott’s green accomplishments during Arne’s leadership is long—ranging from committing to phasing out single-use plastic items to reducing carbon intensity by 30 percent by 2025 (baseline 2016). Click here to review Marriott’s 2025 Sustainability & Social Impact Goals.

“Arne was an exceptional executive—but more than that—he was an exceptional human being,” said J.W. Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, in a press release announcing Arne’s passing.

Here is a list of additional things you should know about Arne, as provided by Marriott:


  • In 2015, Marriott International started working on its next set of sustainability and social impact goals and Arne was instrumental in the development of those goals over the next two years.
  • In 2017, with Arne as the lead voice for both internal and external communication, Marriott launched Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction, the company’s combined social and environmental goals.
  • Arne was also very involved with the Business Roundtable and the statement on the purpose of a corporation. He participated in this sustainability challenge with them.


  • Arne was a huge supporter and played a significant role in all of Marriott International’s diversity efforts, leading Marriott’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Council. This Council’s purpose is to advance Marriott’s progress around the world and ensure the integration of the company’s diversity and inclusion focus across all aspects of its global business strategy. The Council has been instrumental in accomplishing this through a dedicated focus on: establishing and communicating the overarching vision, strategy and business case for global diversity and inclusion; ensuring integration across the diversity and inclusion areas (workforce, suppliers, customers, owners and communications) and continents, as appropriate; and monitoring and reporting the progress of diversity and inclusion to the board of directors and other stakeholders.
  • Arne and his senior leadership team also established comprehensive diversity performance metrics, which are part of their globally-shared MBOs.
  • Arne was also part of Business Roundtable’s Racial Equity and Justice Health Committee.
  • He was an ally member of Marriott’s LGBTQ employee resource group, called ONE Marriott. See this article from Out Traveler for more on Arne’s support of the LGBTQ community. Arne said: “Our company was built on the idea that everyone is welcome, that our strength lies in the diversity of our workforce and our community of customers.”

Vocal Advocate:

Arne was also vocal when it came to human rights, social injustice, women, voting, food waste, immigration, freedom to travel and recently, about the election and insurrection.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Arne’s personal family, his Marriott and hotel industry family, and all of those touched by his impact.

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