Longtime fans of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney must have been plenty surprised when he ditched sustainability in favor of pro-coal, anti-wind, climate change-denying positions during his campaign. After all, in a previous tenure as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney championed sustainable development and took a strong stance against coal-burning power plants.
However, it’s never too late for second chances, and Romney might have just embarked on a doozy of one. Earlier this week, Marriott International announced that Romney will rejoin its Board of Directors as of right now. You can bet that caught our attention over here at TriplePundit! Just a couple of months ago we gave Marriott’s latest CSR report a nice review for its healthy dose of conservation initiatives along with youth development programs, and now we’re mighty curious as to what course the company will set with Romney’s hand on the the tiller.
Romney and Marriott
This will actually be Romney’s third stint at Marriott. According to a rundown by CNN, Romney first served on the board from 1993 to 2002, when he then became Governor of Massachusetts. He joined up with Marriott again in 2009 but left in 2011 to run for president.
If you leave out the 2012 presidential campaign, that timeline bodes well for the future. In particular, Romney’s second term on the board overlaps squarely with Marriott’s growing portfolio of green projects.
It’s also interesting to note that his aggressive pursuit of sustainable economic development as Governor followed directly on the heels of his first term on the board, which lasted five years.
Marriott Goes Green
Triple Pundit’s Samantha Neary looked inside Marriott’s Sustainability Report for 2011-2012, and she was particularly impressed that the company used the highly regarded Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines.
Neary highlighted Marriott’s impressive gains in water and energy consumption, boosted by a partnership with Constellation Energy‘s Project Vulcan. That builds on Marriott’s existing commitment to solar power.
Marriott is also in the third year of a $2 million nature conservation project, the Juma Sustainable Development Reserve in Brazil, and it is working with Conservation International to help protect a key watershed in China.
Then there’s the company’s partnership with the U.S. Green Buildings Council, which launched in 2010 with the aim of bringing hundreds of Marriott facilities under the LEED umbrella.
Also noteworthy is Marriott’s new “World of Opportunity” program, which it launched in January 2012. That set of initiatives includes partnerships with dozens of countries and U.S. cities to help young survivors of human trafficking get back on their feet, and to provide employment opportunities for youth and persons with disabilities.
A Long Way from Bain
Marriott’s sustainability leadership reminds us of another former Romney employer, Bain & Company. After Romney left Bain & Company in 1984 to form Bain Capital, Bain & Company went on to build a strong CSR profile.
Bain Capital, on the other hand, has not made any significant headway in that area, at least not in any form that it chooses to publicize on its website.
Fortunately, based on Romney’s experiences since first joining Marriott in 1993, it seems likely that he has left the Bain Capital legacy behind in favor of the more progressive principals that Marriott has put to work. That is, of course, if you leave out the 2012 presidential campaign.
[Image: Prototype LEED hotel courtesy of Marriott]
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