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Thomas Hanifle Friday, 10 January 2014

1st Evaluation of the Economy of the Common Good

At the core of the Economy for the Common Good is an alternative balance sheet that measures a company’s internal pay gap, whether its products and operations are harmful to the environment, the extent to which employees feel at ease, and how much say employees actually have within the operation itself.
Hotel La Perla has in fact created a Common Good Balance Sheet for the first time in 2012, along with three other South Tyrolean companies, all of which are hotels: the Drumlerhof in Campo Tures (Sand in Taufers), Lüsnerhof in Luson (Lüsen), and the design hotel Feldmilla, which is also located in Campo Tures. The hotels rated themselves first, and were then judged by each of the others. After an in-depth discussion, the hotels settled upon a definitive value for each of the properties together. This process was supervised by members of the Terra Institute, from Bressanone (Brixen), a center of competence for innovation and future viability of companies and society. Here are the results.
1st Evaluation of the Economy of the Common Good
 
A) SUPPLIERS
A1) Ethical Supply Management

Regarding purchasing, Hotel La Perla supports a network of short transport routes: products that are local, regional, environmentally friendly and fairly produced are preferred; purchasing from national and international suppliers is reduced to the bare essentials. Years ago, for example, the hotel stopped serving wines that were not manufactured in Europe.

B) INVESTORS
B1) Ethical Financing

Hotel La Perla works in partnership with Raiffeisenkasse Val Badia. This cooperative bank offers convenient banking services to customers and members – and supports the local economy first and foremost. Its actions are fundamentally aimed at the Common Good. Speculation is unheard of at the bank.

C) EMPLOYEES, INCLUDING BUSINESS OWNERS
C1) Workplace quality and affirmative action

Employees are provided with a work environment in which they feel at ease and that promotes their development. As a result, all employees have free and unfettered access to the sauna, swimming pool and the available spa options. In addition, fast-food vending machines are consciously not made available.
In terms of the hotel’s management structure, the department heads supervise the employees; the Costa family, in turn, supervises the department heads.

C2) Just distribution of labor
All employees have regular work schedules. The working hours were generally reduced by one hour in relation to the previous year, and for those employees who work in the kitchen, the reduction was three and half hours daily.

C3) Promotion of environmentally friendly behavior of employees

Respectful interaction with nature is an essential piece of the puzzle behind the hotel’s philosophy. This is communicated to the employees on a regular basis – in writing to new employees. In terms of mobility, La Perla is a model company: 80 per cent of the employees walk to work.

C4) Just income distribution
The income gap between the maximum and minimum earners amounts to 1 to 5.23; the minimum wage is € 1,100 net per month, with room and board included.

C5) Corporate democracy and transparency
The Costa family is the sole owner of the hotel, and makes all of the important operational decisions in consensus with the department heads; they, in turn, have full decision-making power.

D) CUSTOMERS, PRODUCTS, SERVICES, BUSINESS PARTNERS
D1) Ethical customer relations

Hotel La Perla believes strongly in the authenticity of the products and services it offers. Criticisms and suggestions from guests are taken seriously, discussed internally and changes implemented to the extent possible. Ethical marketing is practiced and, most importantly, conveys the values of the hotel, which correspond to those of the Economy for the Common Good.

D2) Cooperation in business in same field

La Perla works in partnership with a tour operator that receives 20 per cent of the sales price of the rooms, with local tourism associations and with the Leading Hotels of the World (LHW).

D3) Ecological design of products and services
The hotel’s restaurants rely heavily on seasonal and organic food sourced from local producers. The wood used for the rooms came mainly from South Tyrolean forests or old furniture. The restoration work that was recently carried out at the hotel made exclusive use of organic materials.

D4) Socially oriented design of products and services
The hotel’s offering is primarily aimed at an affluent target group; the services of Murin Tavern and the hotel bar, in particular, are also affordable for a wider class of guests.

D5) Raising social and ecological standards
Hotel La Perla works together with some suppliers, the DoloMitici restaurants, the local tourism association, the Leading Hotels of the World and the Terra Institute in Bressanone. The ultimate goal is to make the regional context more aware of environmentally friendly tourism and the Economy for the Common Good principles.

E) SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
E1) Value and social impact of products and services

Some hotels in the valley already share this approach of slower tourism, which also relies on local suppliers in the area of gastronomy.

E2) Contribution to the local community
The hotel operation supports the ongoing training of its own employees, organizes charity evenings, provides financial assistance to Bolzano publisher Edition Raetia, and supports local charitable projects. The Costa Family Foundation was launched six years ago and now aims to protect and promote the rights of children. In addition to collecting funds to finance aid projects, the foundation also supervises these projects on site.

E3) Reduction of environmental impact
Thus far, La Perla has not yet calculated its carbon footprint. But the hotel works to develop strategies that allow it to reduce its impact on the environment even further.

E4) Investing profits for the Common Good
The Costa family and a few employees share in the company profits.

E5) Non-disclosure of subsidiaries
Transparency is of the utmost importance within the hotel. Economy for the Common Good represents a tool that La Perla now has in hand to make their own economic actions public. To a great extent, the Costa family makes decisions regarding operations together with the department heads.

OUTLOOK
Overall, Hotel La Perla scored 391 out of a possible 1,000 points – with the average number of points for businesses that have already done this type of alternative balance sheet being between 300 and 350. There is still much to do, says Michil Costa. “In a far- distant future, we will work only with stakeholders who can themselves present a Common Good Balance Sheet.” Costa and his team hope to raise awareness about this alternative economic model in as many companies and people as possible, and to inspire them to action. In concrete terms, this will enable purchasing in an even more environmentally friendly way, relying on local, seasonal and sustainable products. In addition, the vision is to carry out renovation work at the hotel according to energy-saving criteria. “In order to achieve all of our goals, we will create working groups internally that will analyze our weaknesses and develop concrete measures for improvement,” said Michil Costa.

Thomas Hanifle
 
 
 
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