A new CEO at Carlson hotels makes room for sustainability

When Hubert Joly announced his hasty departure recently as CEO of Carlson — the multi-billion dollar hospitality giant and parent of Radisson, Country Inns & Suites and T.G.I. Friday's — the decision to name CFO and 15-year Carlson executive Trudy Rautio as his replacement was almost immediate. "[The Board’s] decision was quick, decisive and unanimous," said Molly Biwer, VP of communications and public relations for the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

Rautio’s track record demonstrates that she’s a well-respected, two-way leader who’s ready to embrace the aggressive growth strategy set in motion by her predecessor. But where does she stand on sustainability?

Under Joly’s command, Carlson limped in with a disappointing four-year average of 12-out-of-100 points on the Climate Counts company scorecard, marking the bottom of the pile in the hotel sector for its approach to measuring, managing and reporting GHG emissions. As a privately held company, there has been little to suggest in recent years that Carlson is interested in anything other than growth and expansion — justifiably so as the company emerges from a recessionary period that deeply affected the entire hospitality industry.

In what may have been a sign of transformation, however, Carlson announced in January an expanded partnership with Belgium-based Rezidor Hotel Group, of which Carlson is now a 50.1 percent stakeholder. Rezidor has been lauded as one of the fastest-growing hotel companies in the world with a penchant for world-class corporate citizenship. The group also has been honored with numerous awards, including a nod from Ethisphere on its 2012 World’s Most Ethical Companies list.

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