by Elise Gregg
David Wernick, teaching professor of international business, and FIU Business doctoral student Siddharth Upadhyay last month won third place in a new international case writing competition focused on creating more opportunities for students to study diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues.
The competition was organized by the William Davidson Institute and the Ross School of Business at the University for Michigan. The goal: create more real-world case studies that allow students to explore DEI issues, which are currently lacking in business school case studies. The case is available through WDI Publishing.
Their study Does the U.S. Hospitality Market Offer Fertile Soil for Lemon Tree Hotels’ Inclusive Business Model? looks at Lemon Tree Hotels Ltd., India’s largest and fastest-growing mid-market hotel chain, which employs large numbers of marginalized and disabled individuals as part of its human resources strategy. The company has found this strategy to be a surprising source of competitive advantage and is currently looking to expand within India and overseas.
The case study, which includes a video interview that Wernick conducted with Lemon Tree’s vice president of sustainability initiatives, Aradhana Lal, examines the challenges Lemon Tree would face in entering the highly competitive U.S. hospitality market. Students are challenged to consider whether Lemon Tree’s “inclusion program” could be replicated in the U.S. market, and if so, which city might serve as the best entry point.
Wernick noted that Lemon Tree is unique because of its commitment to hiring and developing a diverse group of employees, including people with physical and intellectual disabilities and people from marginalized groups, including orphans, survivors of acid attacks and members of the transgender community. He pointed out that that these employees are also put in front-line positions within the company where they have extensive interaction with guests.
“[Lemon Tree] is a trailblazing company with a brilliant, employee-centric business model that is generating benefits for its various stakeholders,” Wernick said. “Students can learn many valuable lessons about the strategic importance of DEI in today’s business environment.”