Corporate Social Responsibility Helps Define Our Place in the Community

The idea of a company being a good corporate citizen isn’t limited to the Fortune 500 of the business world. Certainly companies on the order of GE, Microsoft and ExxonMobil sponsor extensive, headline-making philanthropic initiatives around the globe. But hundreds of smaller, less-well-known companies support programs that may be more modest in scale and funding, but still make a difference in people’s lives.

This concept, known in business circles and journals as “corporate social responsibility,” or CSR, helps define our place in the communities in which we operate. CSR programs communicate the point that, while our principal purpose is profit-making, we understand our greater responsibility to give back to those communities and participate actively in them.

Community outreach can be a rallying point and source of pride for employees, too. Knowing that their company does its part for the larger good contributes to employee loyalty and goodwill. This can be especially relevant when companies support social service agencies, schools or hospitals located in their associates’ backyards.

M&R Hotel Management has asked the general manager of each of our hotels to identify and reach out this year to a worthwhile organization in their communities that can benefit from our involvement and support. The plan is to make 2014 the year we “give back.” Considering that M&R presently operates 10 hotels in three boroughs of New York, we’re talking about “making a difference times 10.”

Given how enterprising and resourceful our GMs are, I’m not surprised (though still pleased) to report that they’ve moved forward aggressively to make the plan a reality. One of our Queens hotels, the Holiday Inn Express LaGuardia Airport, has teamed up with a local school to give special-needs students a hands-on experience, working at the hotel, to experience the workforce.

The GM at our Holiday Inn Express Kennedy Airport has recruited a team of associates to run in a Relay for Life Race this month to raise money to benefit the local American Cancer Society chapter. The team’s participation may become an annual event or the team may run in other local races.

Meanwhile, one of our Staten Island properties, the Comfort Inn, has hosted an event at the hotel to benefit the local branch of the New York Kids Fingerprinting Project, which helps to promote children’s safety.

These are just three, but they demonstrate the broad range of possible organizations and projects that smaller companies like M&R Hotel Management, can support. Our GMs report that their employees find these experiences valuable and important. Considering our employees work in hospitality, they appreciate more than most the personal gratification that comes with providing guest service. They understand that “giving back” is just another form of service.

In our industry and certainly in the very challenging business environment we live in today, it is easy to forget what might seem like simple efforts to impact a small piece of the community outreach pie. Periodically I look back at our core values and mission statement and ask, “are we living up to what we say we are all about?” But the real measure is smiles of joy on kids’ faces or the gratitude of organizations that so need the money raised so they can accomplish their missions.

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