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Environmental Mission Statements: Wyndham’s Winning Ways

An environmental mission statement is the foundation of a company’s sustainability efforts. It provides the organization and its stakeholders with an understanding of why protecting the natural world is important to the business. It also establishes environmental goals and describes how the company will look when their sustainability objectives are achieved. In short, a strong environmental mission statement is the sum of three parts: Why is the topic important? What is the end goal? How will success be measured? Knowing this, I have been analyzing the environmental mission statements of hotel companies, highlighting where they shine and discussing options for improvement. In this article I will take a look at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts’ green policy statement.

One look at the Wyndham Green website and it is obvious this international hotel company dedicates a tremendous amount of time and resources into creating their on-line environmental persona. Wyndham Green has an attractive look, offers interactive controls that allow users to explore and learn more about the company’s sustainability efforts, and provides a large amount of information about what Wyndham is doing to reduce its environmental footprint. A great place to start sorting through all of the data is by reviewing their green policy statement, which says:

At Wyndham Worldwide, corporate social responsibility is not just another program to implement or policy to follow; it is a way of approaching our work that embodies our vision and values, celebrates our diversity and supports a balance of professional and personal needs. Wyndham Worldwide believes it has a responsibility to the communities in which it operates as well as to its guests, investors, employees, and business partners.

The following outlines Wyndham Worldwide’s green policy statement:

Wyndham Worldwide understands that its business activities impact the earth and its resources. We will continue our efforts to conserve resources, preserve natural habitats and prevent pollution.

We will achieve results, both locally and globally by:

  • Developing environmental best practices in programs, products and services
  • Setting environmental impact targets and measuring performance
  • Working with our employees, suppliers, owners and local communities to minimize our
    environmental impact
  • Complying with local, state and federal environmental laws

Our areas of focus include:

  • Educate and influence all internal and external stakeholders
  • Reduce energy consumption and track performance
  • Reduce water usage and recycle
  • Improve air quality
  • Minimize waste by recycling and reusing materials
  • Implement sustainable procurement practices
  • Participate in local community environmental activities

Ensuring compliance with laws and understanding how their operations impact Earth helps Wyndham answer why sustainability is important to them. They also make a point to list all of their stakeholders in their opening paragraph. This is an excellent idea that allows all parties and people affected by the business Wyndham conducts to be confident that the company is aware of the many lives they touch.

In addition to the actions they will take to “conserve resources, preserve natural habitats and prevent pollution,” Wyndham also has seven “areas of focus” that further define their goals and how they will achieve them. These sustainability aims are exciting but also generic. Their policy would be more powerful if it contained specific dates and reduction objectives. Once these goals are met, the policy can be updated.

Without clear goals, measuring success becomes difficult. While I can envision what the world will be like when Wyndham achieves all of its goals, it would be more effective for them to tell me how they see the future taking shape once their “green” objectives are met. Will all of their new hotels be LEED certified? Maybe they foresee a time when each Wyndham employee is required to attend 20 hours of sustainability training a year to learn how they can reduce the impact of their job on the environment. I am sure Wyndham has a vision for their sustainable future and I encourage them to share it. Doing so will make their already strong environmental statement more inspiring.

After reviewing their environmental policy, I took some time to peruse the rest of the Wyndham Green website. I encourage everyone to read about the many and varied sustainability projects in which they are involved. One area that caught my eye was their Top 10 Basic Initiatives. I love the fact that they chose to use the term “basic.” It tells me that Wyndham believes there is a baseline of environmental practice that all companies should currently be following. Having this mindset means it is easier for Wyndham to go beyond the basics and that is very exciting. While the rest of the Wyndham Green site’s details about projects and figures about reductions are impressive, using the term “basic” told me more about how far sustainability has made its way into the heart of Wyndham Worldwide than any of these other items ever could have.

Matt Courtland is the Senior Consultant at The Natural Strategy, a consulting firm based in Portsmouth, NH that works with business leaders to incorporate environmental sustainability into the core strategy of their organizations. Matt uses The Natural Strategy’s Eco-Position Survey to assess the current relationship a business has with the environment and to understand its future sustainability goals. He then guides leaders through developing an environmental mission statement, creating a strategic plan that will carry out the sustainability objectives of the company, and educating employees on how to be “green” in the workplace.

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