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CSR: What Does it Mean to the Hotel Industry, and What Are They Doing About It?

Professor Stuart Levy

How does the hotel industry define corporate social responsibility (CSR)?  What constitutes socially responsible behavior for the industry?  What standards are the industry setting for itself and what is the industry doing to meet those standards?  Stuart Levy, assistant professor of tourism and hospitality management, is currently immersed in research to answer those questions.

“I am interested in looking at corporate social responsibility from the perspective of hotel industry stakeholders: hotel managers, employees and consumers,” Levy said.  Levy’s research has focused on the lodging industry’s definition of CSR, what CSR-derived practices and initiatives are being implemented and how they impact industry stakeholders.  A survey of the hotel industry completed in May identified 37 CSR activities, ranging from “implement employee-friendly policies for safe, and/or fair work conditions” to “reduce energy consumption in guest rooms by installing energy-efficient appliances” to “provide opportunities for guests to donate to or volunteer with community organizations.”

The survey asked participants to rank the activities in terms of importance and to evaluate their level of success in assigning priority to, and implementing, the most critical initiatives.  The survey data will help identify what type of CSR concerns the industry considers important; what’s being done to address those concerns; what’s working fine; what needs to been done better; and what’s not important enough to pay attention to.

Seven of the top-10 most important CSR activities identified by the industry are related to environmental concerns.  For Levy, this is indicative of confusion over exactly what is meant by “corporate social responsibility.”  CSR encompasses environmental sustainability, but it also includes such concerns as employee relations, product quality, community relations and diversity issues.  Levy is looking to establish a more precise definition of CSR to find out “how we move beyond ‘green.’ ”

Levy has received funding from GWSB’s Office of Undergraduate Programs’ Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) to hire student research assistant Yang Yang, a sophomore studying tourism and hospitality management.  Yang is currently compiling and analyzing articles and findings on hotel industry CSR from industry journals.  “It’s a great way to introduce her to the topic,” Levy said.

Levy will be using his research as the basis for a symposium for academics attending the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Education (ICHRIE) annual summer conference, later this month in Denver.  He also plans to share his findings with the industry, adding that the Department Tourism & Hospitality Management maintains an excellent working relationship with several of the hotel and lodging industry’s leading businesses.

 

 

Posted by gwsb on July 6, 2011 | Filed under: GWSB News.


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