The sustainable side to the events industry has grown hugely over the past 12 months; but we can’t ignore that in the past 2 months alone we’ve seen tragic climate news from the likes of Greece, Maui, America and Canada, serving as a stark reminder that there’s much more to be done.
In a previous blog post, we spoke about how an abundance of green accreditations was somewhat diluting the strength of a great cause. The exception to this, we believed, was B Corp. A set of principles that are truly planet-first, constantly evolving, and a challenging certification to obtain, for all the right reasons. We think this is exactly what the events industry needs to standardise what genuine sustainability looks like.
We’ve taken 8 of the 10 key categories that constitute B Corp, and set out how we believe the events industry can put them into action.
1. Climate Action
B Corps take action in accordance with science to combat climate change and its impacts.
The skills of an event manager are already multi-faceted, however having a basic understanding of the science behind climate change and the impacts of a project is now essential in standardising sustainability across our industry.
Every organisation that lays claim to operating sustainability should be required to invest in training with teams, assistants and managers alike. As a result, everyone should be confident enough to have conversations with clients and suppliers and to make decisions that reduce the environmental impact of an event. Starting with this as a foundation will make the following points all the more straightforward.
2. Purpose & Stakeholder Governance
B Corps act in accordance with a defined purpose contributing to the creation of an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet.
Within any event brief and resulting proposal, just as essential as a venue option is, there should be a clear outline as to what the purpose for the event is, and how the opportunity will be part of a regenerative economic system.
All stakeholders should receive clear communication of the sustainable strategy and goals, just as they would receive a budget and invoice. Go a step further by involving delegates in your journey and outline in communications what the event expects of them, whether that’s to forgo a daily room clean, only travel via public transport where viable, or to be prepared for vegetarian menus.
3. Worker Engagement
B Corp workers feel engaged. There is two-way communication and workers’ views are respected.
Every player in the sustainable events industry should be showcasing exactly how they are listening to their employees feedback and what changes have been implemented as a result.
Many are professionals at engagement and incentives for clients, but how often are agencies or suppliers practising what they preach and rewarding their own staff? Seasonal retreats or smaller performance based perks are straightforward to implement and promote an engaged workforce, a standard ask of a sustainable organisation.
4. Fair Wages
B Corp workers can afford a decent standard of living for themselves and their families, and there is wage equality among the workforce.
The events industry doesn’t often have the best reputation for its pay. Long hours with unpaid overtime have typically been part of the parcel, not to mention disparity with the gender pay gap. M&IT and You Search & Select recently launched a survey which aims to provide valuable insights into salary and benefits across the industry, and in time this clarity on data will help to standardise a vital part of being sustainable in terms of people and profit.
Whilst the 2023 results are yet to be published, organisations should implement regular salary reviews in line with national standards as part of their operating plan. Where overtime is required, we should standardise that this is reimbursed with either time in lieu or a usual hourly rate.
5. Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
B Corps have inclusive and diverse work environments and contribute meaningfully to just and equitable communities.
Events have an opportunity to make a positive impact on whatever community they are operating in, and this should be factored into every event plan in one way or another. We recently volunteered with City Harvest London, and this element of giving back can easily be implemented as a team building exercise with a purpose. Even for high-end incentives, having the chance to be involved in conservation efforts or unique community projects is still a rewarding, feel-good opportunity, more so than an iPad city tour…
As a standard, all events should be required to leave a positive legacy or impact on the host community, whether that’s recruiting local staff, utilising diverse local businesses or donation via time, money, or resources.
6. Impact Management
B Corps comprehensively identify and measure the impacts of their business and improve upon them over time.
Impact management should be required as a standard to any project claiming to operate sustainably. The benefit of this, beyond visibility and benchmarking for improvement, would give the industry a solid foundation of data as to what average emissions and impact looks like.
We envision a central, public pool of anonymised data where anyone can see, for example, what the current industry impact average for a 200 person conference, a 2-day trade show or a 3-day European incentive is. This would allow us to learn from events that have successfully reduced their impact and work towards an achievable reduction goal.
7. Circularity and Environmental Stewardship
B Corps demonstrate environmental stewardship and contribute to the circular economy in their operations and value chain, minimizing any negative impact and pursuing positive impact.
As we all begin implementing impact and emissions measurements across our projects, it should be standardised that a percentage of resources at any given event needs to be part of the circular economy.
That would mean that things within the supply chain like staging, merchandise, carpet and props would be looked at far more stringently, do you really need to opt for brand new or can you rent and reuse instead?
8. Collective Action
B Corps play a leadership role in fostering shared understanding, solutions, and implementation towards an equitable, inclusive, and regenerative economy.
When it comes to the environment and a regenerative economy, there should be no competitors, and developments should be shared with the wider community to act as a positive driving force for the sustainable events industry.
As far as most industries go, we think we’re pretty good at collective action with the likes of agency forums and educational summits, and this is something that needs to stay strong if we are to organise and standardise what is currently a multi-faceted approach. What gives us confidence is that we are all heading in the right direction.
It might seem a lot to someone who is at the beginning of their sustainability journey, but we can assure you that this all becomes second nature when you start to put the planet and people first.
Zentive is currently on the road to B Corp certification. To find out how you too can start your journey, get in touch and speak to one of our consultants today.