The Lemon Tree Hotel Company (www.lemontreehotels.com) has taken a path-breaking step towards inclusion by hiring young adults with Down Syndrome (also known as ‘Happy People’) to work, not just behind the scene but in a customer interactive space i.e. the coffee shops – Clever Fox Café (at Red Fox Hotel) and Citrus Café (at Lemon Tree Premier). This is done as part of their inclusivity/diversity initiative wherein they hire Employees With Disability (EWDs), as part of their employee base.
When one thinks of Lemon Tree Hotels what comes to mind is a fresh, fun, spirited, people oriented brand and a speedily growing hospitality company. We feature Lemon Tree on INDIA INClusive for being all that and much more with their disability friendly and positive work environment, their inbuilt culture of inclusiveness and their path-breaking sustainability initiatives.
The vision and passion of the founder Chairman & Managing Director – Patu Keswani – was to not only create a successful brand but also to build a respected Indian company whose goal is to mainstream people with special needs, as part of the business model.
This ideology resonates across the organisation, from the senior leadership like Aradhana Lal, Vice President-Sustainability Initiatives and Nikhil Sharma, Chief Operating Officer (East, Central and West) to operating managers like Shantanu Das, Assistant Hotel Manager, Red Fox Hotel, Jaipur & Trainer for EWDs, and down to every employee (we spoke to them) who takes pride in being a part of a hotel chain that has 13 percent i.e. ~400 EWDs company wide.
Lemon Tree believes that they have truly benefitted from this mainstreaming, in terms of:
With standard practices in place to help map the abilities of EWDs to the right job profile, training programs to sensitise employees and a culture of integration – Lemon Tree Hotels is a leading example of inclusion in India.
Several NGOs have partnered Lemon Tree on this journey including Noida Deaf Society, Sai Svayam Society, SNS Foundation, V-Shesh, Action For Ability Development & Inclusion, Muskaan, Action For Autism, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Dr Reddy’s Foundation, Dialogue in the Dark, Youth4jobs and more. The Down Syndrome initiative has been partnered by Muskaan (www.muskaanthengo.org), a Delhi based NGO that is working towards providing comprehensive education including vocational training and work opportunities to the intellectually disabled.