Meeting professionals say that a CSR policy demonstrates credibility and trustworthiness to clients and provides some market differentiation.
Nine out of 10 meeting industry businesses actively engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR), and 25 percent are “very active,” according to research for MPI by the International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism & Hospitality at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Reasons for this engagement vary and are not profit-driven; few people believe that CSR improves overall, bottom-line performance. They say it does, however, get them on to tender and approved-supplier lists. Indeed, more than 30 percent of respondents say that they already give preference to suppliers who have a demonstrative commitment to CSR.
The research involves analyzing survey answers from more than 1,100 meeting industry professionals worldwide backed up by in-depth interviews from another 70-plus experts around the world. The university team has almost completed the data-gathering phase and will soon launch some of the headline findings in advance of producing the main report.
But some trends have already become evident. Meeting professionals say that a CSR policy demonstrates credibility and trustworthiness to clients and, to some extent, still provides some market differentiation. However, external pressures will likely cause CSR engagement to grow across the sector as more businesses follow the current industry leaders.
This, in turn, will be the “tipping point” needed for more committed organizations to convert their current approach to engagement into something that is recognized by one of the several accreditation initiatives. The launch of ISO 20121 (event sustainability management standard) later this year will focus attention on the benefits of accreditation. Some meeting professionals feel that unless the industry as a whole engages more with voluntary standards, it risks enforced regulation, particularly regarding environmental and social policies.
One final point of particular interest: The emerging belief across the meeting industry is that without a formal and coherent approach to CSR, employers may find it increasingly difficult to hire quality candidates. The younger generations are increasingly committed to finding employers whose ethics and worldviews reflect their own. Quite simply, if they don’t like the way you treat the environment and the community around you, they are unlikely to want to work with you either. One+
Dr. Simon Woodward, senior tourism research fellow for the International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism & Hospitality at Leeds Metropolitan University. Leeds Met is conducting MPI’s Future of Meetings and Corporate Social Responsibility research initiatives. For more details, email [email protected].
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