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Lemon Tree Hotel Setting A Unique Example In Diversity Hiring

Lemon-Tree-Hotels-best practices-in-diversity and inclusion-hiring



Brief introduction about the company:

Lemon Tree Hotels was founded in 2002 by Mr. Patanjali G Keswani, and opened its first hotel with 49 rooms in May 2004. Today, it is a publicly listed company, and is India’s largest hotel chain in the mid-priced hotel sector, and the third largest overall, on the basis of controlling interest in owned and leased rooms (as of June 30, 2017, according to the Horwath Report).


Lemon Tree Hotels Limited operates in the upscale segment and in the mid-market sector, consisting of the upper-midscale, midscale and economy segments. We deliver differentiated yet superior service offerings, with a value-for-money proposition.


The company currently operates ~8,500 rooms in 87 hotels across 54 destinations, in India and abroad, under its various brands viz. Aurika Hotels & Resorts, Lemon Tree Premier, Lemon Tree Hotels, Red Fox Hotels, Keys Prima, Keys Select and Keys Lite. As the current pipeline becomes operational, LTHL will be operating ~10,450 rooms in 106 hotels across 64 destinations, in India and abroad.


Lemon Tree Hotels, including Keys Hotels, are located across India, in metro regions including the NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai, as well as numerous other tier I and II cities such as Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Indore, Aurangabad, Udaipur, Vishakhapatnam, Kochi, Ludhiana, Thiruvananthapuram and Vijayawada. The company expanded internationally with hotels opening in Dubai in December 2019 and in Bhutan in February 2020. New hotels are also set to open internationally in Bhutan and Nepal.

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About the company’s best practices


Diversity and Inclusion


Lemon Tree believes that the brand should stand for more than ‘just profit’. We have focused our efforts on creating a socially inclusive work environment, which seeks to bring in people of different backgrounds, abilities and ethnicities, and offer them work as a unified team with a common goal.


We believe that persons 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 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.


Lemon Tree has defined the goal as mainstreaming ‘Opportunity Deprived Indians’ i.e. ODIs into its workforce. ODIs include:

Employees With Disability (EwD):

Physical Disability

  • Speech and Hearing Impaired (SHI)
  • Orthopedically Handicapped (OH)
  • Acid Survivors (AS)
  • Going forward, also Visually Impaired (VI), Low Vision (LV)

Intellectual Disability

  • Down Syndrome
  • Autism


People who belong to marginalized sections of society or are from the Economically/ Socially (EcoSoc) weak segment:

  • Below Poverty Line (BPL) individuals
  • Widowed or abandoned/battered/destitute/divorced women
  • Orphans/abandoned girls
  • Individuals from economically weak families
  • Communities who do not get education and employment opportunities easily i.e. North Eastern States, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, tribal/interior areas of any state, etc.

For any of the above segments (except #2), we consider those who have studied up to Class 9


Evolution of the EwD Initiative | Disability Types

In the early stages, we inducted EwDs only in back-end roles like Kitchen Stewarding and Housekeeping, where direct guest interaction was minimal. In addition, the focus was only on SHI employees. This gave us an opportunity to develop standard operating procedures and training modules in an iterative manner. Subsequently we extended this initiative to guest contact areas such as our restaurants. Here, interaction with guests is an integral part of the job role. We then re-engineered the relevant service process to enable EwDs to interact with guests. We also engaged with people with orthopaedic impairment where their disability did not come in the way of their job performance. Over the last six years we have done seven trials with Down Syndrome at the coffee shop and four trials with Autism in Housekeeping, both in Delhi/NCR. Acid Survivors have come on board too at different locations and the learnings are being assimilated. As we are building sufficient learning and experience from this exercise, we will slowly ramp up these disabilities to a national scale as well.

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This initiative was started in 2007. As on date, ~12% of our own employees are Indians who are opportunity deprived in some way.


Growth opportunities for employees


As Lemon Tree grows its footprint, it provides unique growth opportunities to employees. We create a strong hotel leadership pipeline and build team strength to adequately support our vision and business growth.


Our program helps us identify high-performing employees i.e. Super High Achievers (SHAs, typically top 5-10%) and High-Potential Employees (Hi-Pots, typically next 15-20%), who display capabilities to grow into leadership positions over time. The program motivates employees to perform well and give their best at work.


An important element of the program is to provide inter-departmental learnings and on-ground exposure. The programs include HGM (Hotel General Manager) in the Making; EA (Executive Assistant) Ship Program; Skill-up or LEAP (Learn Engage Apply Perform) Program;

GSE (Guest Service Executive) Program; MT (Management Training) Program and the ET (Executive Training) Program – Food Production.


In order to adopt a streamlined approach towards supporting the training and development needs of our SHA/Hi-Pot employees, we have developed a 2X2 role matrix that helps us align our training programs with our business requirements.


What should employees look forward to?

The very first line of our mission statement says we shall be committed to ensuring the wellbeing and self-worth of our colleagues, who are of the utmost importance to us.


With this in mind, employee core values have been defined, and embodied across the brand, as follows:

  • Health and Safety:We will always focus on ensuring the health, safety, security and wellbeing of all our stakeholders, including the communities within which we operate our business.
  • Teamwork: We recognize that superlative performance is always the result of teamwork.
  • Ownership: We always take responsibility for our actions.
  • Respect and Empathy: We always exhibit respect and concern for colleagues, guests and partners.
  • Integrity: We always maintain the highest standards of fairness and transparency in all our dealings.
  • Spirited Fun: We create an exciting and spirited work environment encouraging our colleagues to think freely.
  • Excellence: We always drive excellence in what we do
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