In an email interview with Restaurant India, Aradhana Lal, Vice President - Sustainability Initiatives, Lemon Tree Hotels talk about their CSR initiative into the Indian market.
What is the training given to the EWD to bring them to work?
LTH believes that the brand should stand for more than ‘just profit’ and we are driving the brand to become truly Indian and trusted. In order for us to make these values a part of our DNA, we have focused our efforts on creating a socially inclusive work environment.
Our Employees With Disability (EWD) are often trained by the NGO/training company (through whom we source them) in soft skills and life skills and maybe hospitality skills too. These training modules can be anywhere from 1 to 3 months and in some cases 1 year. Once EWD join Lemon Tree Hotels, we then train them to do the tasks in their specific work areas, e.g. Housekeeping, Food & Beverage Service, etc.
What is the procedure of preparing them?
We believe that people with disabilities (which can be physical, social or economic disabilities leading to an opportunity deprivation) must be provided the same opportunities as others to realize their full potential and allow them to live with dignity. By creating a supportive environment in the organization that allows them to deliver their best, we are able to play a part, however small, in social inclusiveness, opportunity/livelihood creation and therefore nation building.
It is important to first brief and sensitizes the entire employee team at Lemon Tree and then welcome EWDs on board. This ensures they are made to feel comfortable and welcomed as part of the team. We have set up a ‘buddy’ system in the company where an existing employee is assigned as a buddy to the new EWD who helps him/her understand and learn his/her job and also helps with explaining processes and norms in the company.
What is the salary offered to them? Is it the same as others?
Yes, salary and benefits are the same as employees without disabilities and they work the same 9 hour shift.. Our policy of hiring EWD is a part of our business model and central to the way we work.
What are some of the morale boosting measures taken at the workplace for EWD??
The idea that we are welcoming them to be an important part of our company is the biggest morale boosting factor. This means they are being treated equally as others and with respect. Something which all persons with disability (PwD) consider very important for themselves.
As part of our regular HR processes, EWD also get a chance to have regular Engagement Chats with the Hotel General Manager, participate in all team activities, get the opportunity to win recognition and reward and are a central part of our monthly town halls. Even when the team does fun activities (inside or outside the hotel) they ensure the participation of all EWD.
How many employees are presently disabled at Lemon Tree?
We currently have ~400 EWDs in the employee base, who are Speech & Hearing Impaired (SHI), Orthopaedically Handicapped (OH) and Down syndrome or Autistic. They work across Housekeeping, Kitchen Stewarding, Food & Beverage Service and Finance/Stores. This is 13% of our total staffing at 27 hotels owned/operated across 16 cities in India.
How does their growth look like?
Our goal is to take this to 460-470 EWDs or ~15% by end March 2016. And then to 25% of the employee base by 2025.