As a longstanding labor dispute between unionized employees and Hyatt Hotels Corporation reached a successful conclusion earlier this month, the 55-year-old hospitality giant was busy launching a global philanthropy program, Ready to Thrive, which will allot a portion of Hyatt’s substantial corporate coffers to improve literacy and career development around the world.
“Ready to Thrive will lend critical support to the company’s corporate responsibility platform, Hyatt Thrive, which strives to make local communities places where Hyatt associates are proud to work, where guests want to visit, where neighbors want to live and where hotel owners want to invest,” the company said in a statement earlier this month.
To kick off the program, Hyatt made a two-year, $750,000 investment in career training and development programs in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the company plans to open a Grand Hyatt in 2015. Working with AlfaSol and Associação Projeto Roda Viva, two well-known organizations, the company’s programs will focus on low-income youth who live in the community where the hotel will be located.
“The investment from Hyatt is going to make a huge difference as we train young people in vulnerable situations and help them to develop skills that are essential to enter and remain in today’s workforce and to be active participants in their communities,” said Maristela Miranda Barbara, a director at AlfaSol.
Brigitta Witt, Hyatt’s vice president for corporate social responsibility, said that future Ready to Thrive investments would focus on areas where the company seeks to increase its presence, including North America, Latin America, the United Kingdom, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, and China.
In a nod to Hyatt’s fiduciary duties, chief executive officer Mark Hoplamazian made clear that the company’s “focus on literacy and charitable giving goes beyond charitable giving” because it is also designed to bolster Hyatt’s bottom line.
“It is a strategic investment of our resources to create a lasting impact for local communities and for our company,” said Hoplamazian. “We know that a solid education is essential for economic growth, job creation and income generation, all of which are critical to creating thriving communities and to the success of our business.”
Witt echoed Hoplamazian. “It’s critical that we communicate to our stakeholders the shared value that’s created through our corporate responsibility investments,” she said. “What is good for the communities in which we live and work is good for our business.”
Witt lauded Hoplamazian’s leadership, which she said has been instrumental in creating organization-wide support for Hyatt’s broad corporate responsibility goals in general and Ready to Thrive, in particular.
“We have a very high level of c-suite commitment that is matched by an equal level of support and commitment at the grassroots level,” she said. “Mr. Hoplamazian believes passionately in the transformative powers of education for individuals and the communities in which they live and was actively involved in crafting the vision behind Ready to Thrive.”
The labor dispute notwithstanding, Hyatt has received a slew of awards for its corporate responsibility efforts, including the 2012 Gallup Great Workplace Award; the 2012 Human Rights Campaign Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality; #2 on the Chicago Tribune’s Top 100 Workplaces in Chicago; and 2012 CAREERS & the disabled Magazine Readers’ Choice Top 50 Employers.
“Our people are Hyatt’s most important asset and the key to our success,” said Hoplamazian last month at a ceremony honoring Hyatt’s employees in Chicago. “They truly embody our culture and demonstrate a unique passion for their work that keeps our guests returning year after year.”