Are You Educating Attendees on Corporate Social Responsibility?

Proving that meetings mean business is not the only trend in the industry these days. As I blogged back in April, another key trend for meeting planners in 2009 is a focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

Though the ideas and motives behind CSR vary from organization to organization, it continues to grow in popularity. In fact, a recent study found that the number of organizations with a CSR charter rose from 59 percent in 2008 to 61 percent today.

"We have such an incredible opportunity to impact millions of people by holding meetings responsibly," Bridget Chisholm, conference manager for the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), said in the September issue of Prevue magazine, which focuses on CSR. "It’s becoming mainstream and it’s what society wants. If a company is not conscious of the waste it produces, it’s going to eventually lose customers."

That's not an exaggeration. According a recent TBA Global white paper, 69 percent of Americans felt that companies should invest more in community projects. Additionally, a study by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and European expense management company KDS found that about 27 percent of companies prefer to do business with suppliers and partners practicing CSR policies. 

As Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation succinctly put it, "Ethics is the new competitive environment."

As such, it's not surprising that Prevue reports that community service has experienced exponential growth in today's meetings and incentives. According to the magazine, Destination Hotels & Resorts officially inked a deal this month with Odyssey Teambuilding, a philanthropic event planning company. This provides planners a more streamlined RFP process for groups desiring a volunteer event.

Odyssey, of late, has earned major press for their teambuilding program during which attendees build prosthetic arms for landmine victims in Asia. Participants are then connected with the individual for whom they built the particular device.

Learn more about Prevue's "Change the World" cover story, which features interviews with industry execs and planners in Vancouver, Denver, San Jose, Virginia Beach and Riviera Maya, or sign up for complimentary subscription information at www.prevueonline.net.
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