Lemon Tree Hotels: Opening Doors for Everyone
(9 pages of text)
On January 1, 2017, the head of sustainability initiatives at Lemon Tree Hotels (Lemon Tree) in India reflected on the future of the company’s inclusion and diversity initiative. Since the inception of the initiative in 2007, Lemon Tree had become the largest employer of persons with disabilities in the Indian hospitality industry. In 2014, Lemon Tree had set itself an ambitious target of increasing the share of opportunity-deprived individuals, which included mainly persons with disabilities, to 45 per cent of its workforce by the end of financial year 2025.
To remain on course to achieve this goal, the head of sustainability initiatives needed to address key areas of concern in expanding the initiative beyond its current level. For example, where would the company source and recruit persons with disabilities, what costs would be involved, and what specific types of disability would the initiative need to open itself to? While expanding the initiative, how would Lemon Tree preserve its sustainability framework, which was based on the three pillars of the triple bottom line: profit, planet, and people? Should the company instead pursue deeper integration and more gradual growth, which would allow it to consolidate its learning thus far, but would require deeper analysis of training needs and delivery? The head of sustainability initiatives felt the need to discuss these options with the senior leadership team and plan the company’s approach to best operationally and culturally integrate persons with disabilities and other opportunity-deprived individuals into its workforce.
This case is best suited for management students at the postgraduate level. We recommend using the case in a strategic management, human resource management, or entrepreneurship course. Depending on the course, the case can focus on sustainability and issues of corporate social responsibility, such as integrating sustainability initiatives into business strategy; human resource management, including the management of persons with disabilities; or entrepreneurship, including building organizations that focus on a triple bottom line. After reading and analyzing the case study, students should be able to do the following:
- Evaluate whether a for-profit organization can profitably operate socially proactive initiatives as part of its business model.
- Devise various strategies for shifting from tokenism to creating an inclusive workforce and systematically building organizational capabilities toward mainstreaming persons with disabilities.
- Provide a reasonable course of action that balances factual, emotional, and ethical premises.
- Understand the role and impact of the leader's vision in framing future strategies.
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