Hyatt Lifts the Curtain on 'Thrive' Global Sustainability Program

Hyatt has launched a global CSR platform to pull together the company's sustainability initiatives, green teams, and employee volunteer and outreach programs so that the efforts benefit not only the hotels, but also the communities surrounding them.

The premise for Hyatt Thrive is the idea that helping communities thrive is not just good for business -- it's essential for business sustainability.

Brigitta Witt, Hyatt vice president for corporate social responsibility, talks to GreenBiz.com about the Thrive platform, which launched last month and encompasses the brand's more than 450 properties and 80,000 employees.

Brigitta Witt

Leslie Guevarra: What prompted the development of Thrive, and why now?

Brigitta Witt: You know, I think Hyatt has always been invested in improving the communities in which we operate. It's something that we know is absolutely crucial to sustaining our business, and it's important to everybody we serve. Our guests, our associates, our owners, and certainly also our neighbors. Hyatt Thrive really just gives us a framework that allows for all of our positive efforts to add up to make a big impact globally. By focusing, you know, our efforts really with the same effort in mind, which is to enable all of our communities to thrive.

LG: Effectively then, is it a pulling together of everything you had in place, and adding more to it?

BW: It's really just focusing everything that we have in place. So our hotels have a very rich history of both environmental stewardship and giving back to their communities by really having a singular focus that really has four main components: environmental sustainability; education and advancement; health and wellness; and economic development and investment. All of which we feel are critical components to enabling any community to thrive. We're really just focusing, I think, really the passion, the commitment of our associates, and our resources on those key areas.

LG: Are you doing something special to launch Thrive?

BW: We are. We really kicked off Hyatt Thrive with a global volunteer initiative, in which all of our properties around the world will be dedicating some time to giving back to their communities, largely by volunteering.

[For example,] over 400 of our corporate office, as well as hotel associates, are dedicating some time to revitalize a local school in the city of Chicago. In addition, we have partnered with the Pearson Foundation and will be donating 15,000 books to ten schools in the Chicago Public School District. The goal there is really to get books into the hands of the students so they can take them home -- something that a lot of the kids in these communities don't necessarily have access to.

LG: How will your Thrive program differentiate Hyatt from other hospitality companies that also have sustainability programs?

BW: I can speak best for Hyatt, but there's really several key components that position Hyatt Thrive to achieve lasting results. First and foremost, Hyatt Thrive is supported -- really powered -- by our 80,000 associates in over 450 hotels around the world who really invest a lot to help this platform reach its full potential. To make sure that all of our positive, local efforts add up to make kind of a major global impact.

For example, we have green teams in all of our hotels around the world that focus on executing Hyatt's global environmental commitments. We have, as we mentioned, a global volunteer month that we're dedicating to the launch of Hyatt Thrive, but I think that's really just representative of a lot of the initiatives that our associates put forth in their communities throughout the year.

I think the second thing that really positions Hyatt Thrive to achieve results is that this is a global framework that really has the singular goal of helping our communities to thrive. However, our execution of Hyatt Thrive is hyper local. I think this is really, really important because nobody understands our communities most pressing needs and their solutions better than the people who live and work there.

And I think finally what really positions our platform to succeed is that, as a company, we are very, very committed to measuring and tracking our progress, and to also holding ourselves accountable to the goals that we set. We have been tracking our environmental performance since 2006. We set very aggressive targets to reduce our consumption of energy -- water, waste, and carbon emissions -- by the year 2015. Through our tracking system -- Hyatt Eco Track -- we can measure our progress from year to year.