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Sustainability also involves a significant social aspect. People with disabilities frequently find jobs or training places in the hotel industry, and many hotels are fulfilling important social responsibilities by employing them. People in need of support experience acceptance and appreciation as they perform meaningful work. Trained specialists assist them in the kitchen, the service team, at reception, in housekeeping or in the production operations. This support work is intended to strengthen the employees' existing skills and make them more employable in the free economy. 

«Our employees have some impressive qualities: they are genuinely friendly, they are determined to do well, and they are proud to be part of our company.»

Mathias Dunoz, Director of the mARTigny Boutique Hotel

There are many facets of social sustainability

The mARTigny Boutique Hotel in Martigny, the Kartause Ittingen in Warth and the Militärkantine in the heart of St. Gallen all rank as pioneers of social integration. All of them are members of the Responsible Hotels of Switzerland group. The mARTigny Boutique Hotel, for instance, employs 40 people with disabilities – equivalent to about sixty percent of its workforce. The Kartause Ittingen offers 30 assisted living places and 60 sheltered workplaces, not only in the hotel itself but also in the farm that it owns. And the Militärkantine collaborates with Rheinspringen, the St. Gallen integration agency, to provide «time-out» places for young people, and it also integrates refugees into its operation.

The level of mutual respect and appreciation is extraordinary

Providing support for people with mental or cognitive disabilities in everyday working life calls for special skills and methods. The team of authors at Responsible Hotels of Switzerland asked the Director of the mARTigny Boutique Hotel about his experience in this regard.

Is integration into working life successful, and how do you help employees to achieve this goal?
Mathias Munoz: We view our efforts as a key part of the integration process. All of our employees receive a 100-percent disability pension, and most of them will never be able to work on the open labour market. Collaboration is made possible thanks to support from FOVAHM (the Valais Foundation for People with Mental Disabilities) and team leaders who have undergone specific training. It is they who «translate» the requirements of our profession and provide support for employees with disabilities in their day-to-day working lives. 

What special qualities do employees with disabilities have?
Mathias Munoz: They have some really impressive qualities: they are genuinely friendly, they are determined to do well, and they are proud to be part of our company and to have a «proper» job. Their joy in their work also inspires the other employees in our hotel, so all the members of our workforce motivate each other.  

How do customers respond to employees with disabilities?
Mathias Munoz: Very positively in 99.9% of cases. All our employees are very happy with the lives they lead: they are proud of the jobs they do – and customers are also constantly aware of this. Every day, this leads to new and stimulating encounters that benefit everyone involved. The level of mutual respect and appreciation is extraordinary.