VP says Wyndham aims to make a difference around the world

Fires ablaze in Napa Valley, hurricanes slamming Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and fair wages for organic coffee farmers in Peru.

Those things have one thing in common: Wyndham Worldwide.

Yes, the hotel and resort chain.

Focusing on helping in all those sectors, and more, are just part of a day’s work for Faith Taylor, senior vice president and global corporate social responsibility officer at Wyndham.

In the past 10 years, the company has focused on proactively solving problems and reaching out in areas where there is need in the more than 120 countries where Wyndham has hotel, time share and rental properties.

Focusing on climate change, taking advantage of the digital explosion and the tools that come with it, as well as focusing on greater transparency, are some of the ways Wyndham is trying to be a better corporate partner, Taylor told ROI-NJ in a recent phone interview.

“We always say that we are not perfect, but have the right mission and plan and we are making a difference,” she said.

She shared her message and Wyndham’s successes at a recent conference on philanthropy held by the New Jersey chapter of the Association of Funding Professionals.

She also shared its failures.

Wyndham, Taylor said, is wary of the pitfalls of trying to good.

One of the projects the company is involved in is planting trees in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation.

The trees were planted in Peru, where organic coffee is grown — but it should be grown under the shade of trees.

The goal was to plant 1 million, and that goal was met last year, seven years after the project began.

In addition to planting the trees, the company helped farmers by purchasing their organic coffee.

Two hundred and eighty thousand pounds of coffee each year, to be exact, according to Taylor.

At first, the company felt pretty good about what it was doing. But, then, it realized the farmers weren’t getting fair wages.

Now, it ensures the farmers get paid fairly and can afford education for their families, Taylor said.

How does Wyndham ensure there aren’t other negative impacts?

Every project is audited, Taylor said. And social media is monitored.

“The reason why we do audits is to see if there are any adverse effects and if we should adjust accordingly,” Taylor said.

And technology has helped make that easier.

Wyndham can use software to monitor its progress in becoming a more environmentally friendly company with all its properties, tracking the activity in its philanthropic arm and even offering easy ways for employees to donate time and money.

“I’m a firm believer in software,” Taylor said.

Before utilizing software to track employee donations, the company would require PDF forms be filled and photos be emailed or faxed.

Since implementing a “three-click” process, which can be done on a computer or mobile device, the company has seen a double-digit increasing in giving, Taylor said.

This increase in engagement from employees also providers a greater return on investment, she said.

“Some of the areas, we know for a fact, we see typically improved return on investment,” Taylor said.

But, she acknowledged, the company is moving in this direction because there is a demand for it.

Guests are more likely to stay with more sustainable companies and, overall, there have been studies showing consumer interest in responsible investing.

“I believe that corporate social responsibility is one of the vehicles that can be one of the changes agents for good,” Taylor said.

Especially since many companies are still on what she called a journey to doing better and being better corporate citizens.

“It’s important to focus and stay positive as we go through this. We have to have some hope,” Taylor said.