Make Your Meetings Socially Responsible

Different companies have different priorities when it comes to being good corporate citizens. Your firm may be focused on feeding the hungry, while another may be into cleaning up the environment (or at least committed to preventing it from becoming more polluted). Or maybe you're lucky enough to work for a company with a wide target list of how to help out humanity.

Regardless of the particular program, there are great ways that you can build a more socially responsible strategic meetings management program (SMMP).

I was very pleased to read an article in's June issue focusing on this very subject, and it gave a lot of great examples of how you can build CSR practices into each and every meeting. The piece gives proper due to the NBTA's 62-page toolkit, developed last year by the group's Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, that outlines many areas of responsible travel procurement. And it also gave some great tips on being more proactive in building socially responsible meetings, including some super advice for dealing with vendors, including:

- Sharing your CSR objectives with hotels and other vendors in your RFPs, and including questions that will allow you to measure eco-impact; also, asking vendors to share their CSR policies in responses;
- Requiring all invoices be delivered electronically;
- Requesting vendors estimate their carbon footprint on the services they're providing;
- Establishing SLAs for green components in contracts -- with penalties for failure to meet conditions and incentives for hitting goals

NBTA's toolkit also recommends strong communication to employees about your company's CSR initiatives, for example, via attendee registration automation. Share details such as :

- Amount of carbon emissions to be reduced over a specific time period
- Amount of internal meetings intended to be reduced
- Tips on how attendees can reduce their carbon footprint at meetings

Overall, its crucial to strategically build CSR-responsible meetings practices and policies that planners should follow, for example:

- Creating a CSR policy where at least a minimum of components can be applied at all events
- Educating planners on green policies and how to incorporate them into eco-friendly events
- Budgeting for green policies and requirements
- Sharing reporting on green meetings outcomes with senior executives
- Establishing goals for meetings alternatives (where it's suitable), such as virtual meetings   

Even in this financially focused age of ours, when every meetings nickel is being counted, meetings managers can continue to push for incorporating social responsibility (both tactics and strategies) into their meetings program. We can save and be better citizens at the same time!   

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.