Strategizing for People, Planet, and Profit: The Triple Bottom Line Approach

Manish Gupta  
Chief Financial Officer, Aureum Palace Hotels and Resorts

Manish Gupta is a finance visionary with more than 15 years in the hospitality industry, shaping the strategic future of Aureum Palace Hotels and Resorts. His expertise has been significant in managing a diverse portfolio across six destinations, encompassing 15 hotels and over 800 rooms. Beyond his CFO role, he's an accomplished author and founder of eHotel Management School, offering over 30 courses to a global student body exceeding 100,000, marking him as a leader in hospitality education and financial acumen.

Many businesses care more for profits than for people and the planet. While businesses have started to strategize the People part, especially in the service industry, where I come from, the Planet is still in the back seat.

However, I have seen firsthand that a balanced approach to managing all three aspects was transformative for organisations. During my tenure as acting CEO, I have placed more emphasis on people and the planet and these two taking care of profits. In this short article, I will take you through this journey.

 

People: Cultivating a Culture of Care

First in the trilogy is the people, working for you or with you (read as a community). Early in my career, I realised that the well-being of people surrounding us directly impacts our bottom line. 

During a particularly challenging period, when political unrest disrupted our operations, our commitment to supporting our employees’ welfare paid off in the following years. We provided housing and financial assistance, which in turn, fostered a sense of loyalty and resilience within our workforce. 

Our people helped us steer through deep cash crunches through personal sacrifices. They were more willing to learn new tasks for multi-tasking, taking pay cuts, and even working double while we cared for the basic needs & emergencies of their families. 

I recall a conversation with a long-time employee who expressed her gratitude for our support during the crisis. She was willing to let go of another opportunity paying double the amount, to stick with us in the hope for a better future together. Her story reminds me & reinforces the power of positivity, hope, and clear communication with people. Emotional Leadership plays a significant role in this.

Apart from focusing solely on their people, businesses must focus on community development too. Keeping them together, generating opportunities for local businesses is essential in winning their support.

This human-centric approach can not only enhance the operational efficiency of businesses but also cement their reputation as responsible employers.

 

Planet: Pioneering Sustainable Practices

Second on our priority list is the environment, and our dedication to environmental sustainability has helped us achieve better profits. In Myanmar, where natural beauty is a key attraction, preserving the environment is essential for the longevity of the hospitality industry. 

Our hotels have won various green initiative awards due to our continuous efforts to save energy, use local products to reduce carbon emissions, and control the usage of plastic, etc. 

Yes, it would be hard for businesses to achieve 100% carbon neutral or negative status, but progress is the key. In my opinion and also proven by various research, environment conscious businesses can generate better ROI for their stakeholders.

The journey will not exist without challenges. There will be initial resistance to changing long-standing operational procedures and high setup costs. However, witnessing the tangible benefits, such as reduced utility costs and positive guest feedback, should lead to positive commitment. 

Customer choice awards and recognition awards from the government and NGOs may also motivate businesses to adopt such practices. 

Environment being a major part of the initiatives, we should not undermine the importance of diversity and social inclusion. This may mean hiring and supporting various parts of society. Ie. Becoming unisex, free of colour or social status may help this planet a better & safer place to live, love and ‘To Work

 

Profit: Achieving Financial Resilience

Once we have fixed the two pillars, people and planet, the third one i.e., profitability, becomes easier. It is surely a complex choice between profits and the other two; however, understanding the long-term impact of investing in people and the planet makes the job much easier. 

Businesses should not make sustainable practices, people development, and financial success mutually exclusive. Despite the high initial cost, balanced investment in people and the planet can lead to significant cost savings and a better brand reputation in the long run. 

Businesses which have sufficient margins today must invest for the future for long-term sustainability. 

In conclusion, a balanced approach focusing on all three aspects will not only drive business growth but also position businesses as leaders in sustainable operations. 

As I look to the future, I remain committed to these principles, confident that they will continue to guide us towards a prosperous and responsible path.