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.
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.
BITC, the benefits of responsible businesses fall into the following
and future workforce
reduction and management
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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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