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The blind eye in CSR: Business Events

More and more venues, hotels and caterings are changing into sustainability, but do customers’ CSR turn a blind eye to it? At Responsible Business Events October 30 during Sustainable Brands in Copenhagen, the industry meets with customers and international key players for knowledge sharing on sustainability

“It is unique that so many international key leaders in sustainability and events are gathered at a single event,” says Ulrika Mårtensson, owner of the communication and consulting firm IMPROVEMENT, specializing in event sustainability, and continues: “Therefore, Responsible Business Events is a rare opportunity to get a broad view as well as the latest news within that field.”

Read more: Program for Responsible Business Events

In collaboration with the knowledge sharing and networking platform CSR LINK and the world’s largest sustainability event Sustainable Brands, Ulrika Mårtensson has launched the Responsible Business Events conference – creating a one-day full spotlight to sustainability within the event area with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as the frame.

The target audience for the event is broadly everyone working within business meetings and events. This means both the event sector, such as event agencies, hotels, restaurants and conference and congress centers, but also professionals at their clients associated with meetings and events, in particular Corporate Meeting Planners, and even those responsible for purchasing, HR, communication and CSR, too.

The price is decisive, again
For Ulrika Mårtensson, there is room for improvement in the communication between the various professionals on this area within the organizations, and she calls for a stronger link between the meeting and event planning and CSR: “We often see that those accountable for carrying out the meetings and events are acting on their own, assuming what the other departments in the company want or think. However, typically they tend to only satisfy the Procurement Department, hence price becomes crucial while sustainability, HR, environmental issues, communication etc. is not really taken into account.”

Ulrika Mårtensson is not blind to the fact that it is good for a company to restrain its expenses, but stresses that it may be short-term thinking not to address sustainability as it may backfire in the long run. Especially as sustainable alternatives do not necessarily come with a larger price tag, she adds.

The event industry on the move towards sustainability
“If you want your event to be entirely ‘business-as-usual’ then sustainable solutions can be difficult, costly and restrictive. But if you use it as a challenge, the exercise is a catalyst for innovation and re-thinking from which you can streamline and refine your events. And at the same time, you can display that you make informed and thoughtful decisions that are in line with the company’s overall strategy,” she says, pointing out that many of the solutions are already on the shelves of the vendors: “Currently, we see the event industry moving fast forward on sustainability with an impressive line-up of innovative initiatives – refugees, climate, food waste, diversity, organic food etc. – and it seems like their clients is not fully in the same pace when it comes to demand.”

Read more: Other articles about Responsible Business Events

As long as customers are not actively requesting these initiatives it is uphill and hard to keep momentum for the industry. Therefore, Ulrika Mårtensson recommends confronting vendors on how they can build-in sustainability in order to create authentic events that clearly support overall sustainability strategy for the company.

Meetings are showcasing your sustainability
After several years in the center of the event industry it is Ulrika Mårtensson’s experience that many CSR companies have a blind eye with regards to their meetings and events. The meetings are all too often ‘business-as-usual’ and are highly isolated parts of the corporate operations – thus placed in secondary positions. But meetings and events should form an active part of the company’s communication, she advices, and Procurement, HR and CSR should be included in the planning process:

“Enterprises often put lots of money into image marketing, branding, employee and customer care. If companies are learning how to combine these areas with their CSR and business strategies, and their meeting and event budgets they will find synergies that will benefit them 360 degrees. Both internally and externally. ”

In essence, companies and organizations can benefit directly from their meetings and events to showcase how they want their stakeholders to perceive themselves and especially the way they work with sustainability.

“Basically, this is about caring for your business relations as much as can be gained by showing responsibility and leadership. However, much can be lost through bad impressions if you don’t act,” she underpins and concludes: “So be clear on your requirements and do expect your vendors to deliver when it comes to food waste, fair trade, energy efficiency, eco-labels and the lot.”

A top-profiled program
At Responsible Business Events, participants can gather knowledge, insight and inspiration at nine break-out sessions in a grid so that Procurement, HR and CSR managers and – last but not least – Corporate Meeting Planners can gain whether they are into “Sustainable Growth Strategies”, “New Green” or “Human” or positioned in “Management”, “Procurement” or “Facilitation”.

Among the many topics of the day are:

  • Brand activation
  • Managing food resources
  • Challenges for Ethical Procurement
  • Efficient Meetings and ISO 20121
  • Diversity as a driver

As hosts for the sessions you find key players such MCI Group, Alexandra Institute, Ecolabelling Denmark, Sustainability GMIC, Unilever Food Solutions and BC Hospitality Group to name but a few.

The conference is kicked-off by an international panel, setting the SDG’s as the focal point of the day with KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, CEO / Founder, Sustainable Brands, Inge Huijbrechts, Vice President Responsible Business, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Camilla Brückner, Director of UNDP Nordic, and Allan Agerholm, Vice Chairman of the Board of the Danish trade association for HORECA, as speakers.

Read more: Registration for the conference

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