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News & Press: GMIC Global News

GMIC Sustainability in Action: Making a Business Case for Sustainable Practices

Thursday, July 12, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Callie Vorhees
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GMIC Sustainability in Action:

Making a Business Case for Sustainable Practices


On July 10, Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) board members Andrew Walker and Katherine Manfredi led an interactive webinar on making a business case for sustainable practices in the meetings industry. The session, part of GMIC’s monthly educational webinar series, drew on presenters’ and participants’ experiences to explore the connections between environmentally minded corporate social responsibility and building stronger businesses.


Walker identified seven benefits of environmentally responsible business practices outlined in a March 2011 report from Business in the Community (BITC). The UK-based non-profit is geared toward fostering corporate social responsibility and environmentally sustainable practices in its member organizations.


According to BITC, the benefits of responsible businesses fall into the following categories:

·      Brand value and reputation

·      Employees and future workforce

·      Operational effectiveness

·      Risk reduction and management

·      Direct financial impact

·      Organizational growth

·      Business opportunity


Webinar participants selected two items from the list—"brand value and reputation” and "direct financial impact”—to discuss in breakout sessions. The breakouts revealed that many meeting planners experience an implementation gap between their company’s interest in fostering sustainable business practices and buy-in from clients.


Green business practices "seem to be more important internally,” one participant said, adding, "I’m not sure how much our customers are concerned.” Another said, "I have also found that everyone has their own definition of what is green.”


Education and innovation are two keys for building support from clients who might not be aware of the green reasons for a planner’s choices, Walker noted. "Part of it is educating internally,” he said. "But it’s also finding creative ways, of which there are many great examples, to integrate sustainability in a way that does not detract” from the experience of the event.


Manfedi emphasized the importance of timing, of being ready for pushback, and of taking a "yes-and” approach when introducing sustainable practices in new territory. Both she and Walker concluded that steady, incremental work toward greener practices is a long process, with long-term benefits.


"For us, in the meeting industry, I think a lot of the time it’s to do with cost savings: how could you save money and/or increase revenue by incorporating sustainable practices into your meetings and events?” Walker said. "There’s this myth that it costs more to be green.”


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