CSR is no longer an option for event professionals

2023 CSR objective for events

2023 will mark an acceleration in the consideration of CSR criteria in the choice of event suppliers. Constrained by stricter regulations and driven by sharper strategies, organizers will be increasingly demanding. 

November 2022. The regional branch of a leading bank in France sends its potential event suppliers, in the context of a competition, a traditional set of specifications for a beautiful internal event in 2023. The client attached a CSR questionnaire with no less than 60 points to be addressed.

All the themes are present:

  • carbon impact
  • life cycle of the materials created and used,
  • waste management, energy consumption,
  • pollution, preservation of biodiversity, working conditions,
  • diversity of the teams,
  • insertion,
  • ethics 
  • ethics, responsible purchasing... 

What does this mean for suppliers and event organizers in 2023?

CSR requirements on the rise from clients

The questions are precise and the Excel used for the exercise is clear on the type and requirement of the answers requested. It is clear that these answers will have an impact on the final decision of the choice of the agency and the service providers.

In the memory of event professionals, we have rarely seen a document with such a high level of response. The conclusion is clear: we will have to get used to it.

All companies that use events, especially the largest ones, have developed a sophisticated CSR strategy.

Until then, the production activities core business have been prioritized and aligned with the objectives. With the pandemic and the collective awareness of the issues at stake, the acceleration of CSR implementation now affects communication and events, which are the true mirrors of companies.

Event suppliers will be required to provide data

In addition, Starting at 2023, European legislation is getting tougher on companies.

The CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) extends the obligation of non-financial reporting to all companies, listed or not, with more than 250 employees.

In a few words, these companies will soon be obliged to communicate detailed, audited and certified data on their impacts, starting with a carbon footprint.

In fact, these companies, which make up the vast majority of event consumers, will themselves demand reliable data from their partners, which they will consolidate with their overall activities.

Commit yourself to a CSR strategy or you won't be able to work

The trend is therefore clearly towards an increase in the importance of CSR criteria in the choice of event suppliers.

The questions asked are still unclear:

> To what extent can you propose actions to...?

> How can you assure us that...?

One thing is certain, however, tomorrow we will have to demonstrate, with evidence and measurements, that our company, event operator, is committed to :

  • events with less waste,
  • carbon neutral events,
  • positive social impact events.

In the short term, the alternative is obvious for agencies, venues and service providers: either they enter into a voluntary, active approach and can bring concrete elements of their progress, or they will no longer be privileged. Expertise is no longer enough. 

Measuring your carbon footprint to improve it

Committing to improving its impacts in the design, preparation and execution of an event is therefore no longer an option. Any CSR strategy is built patiently and takes time, a rare resource in the event industry. However, it is necessary to free up some of this time in order to provide its clients with usable data.

First, the calculation of the carbon footprint. It is again essential, but must be accompanied by a reduction strategy. The platforms Climeetdedicated specifically to events, Toovalu or Greenlywhich are more generalist, are often cited in the sector.

The idea is not to measure for the sake of measuring, but to measure in order to progress

ISO 20121, more and more requested in calls for tenders

Identify its points of progress, draw up an improvement plan and implement actions. Behind this methodology, there is the certification or labeling of its strategy.

THE ISO 20121 certifies the responsible management system applicable to the event activity. It can be implemented by any direct or indirect organizer (companies, agencies, venues, service providers...).

Although it has been criticized since it was obtained by Qatar for the organization of the World Cup, it is nevertheless a reference that is increasingly required by event principals and allows certified companies to start or structure a real approach and to involve their stakeholders, starting with their employees.

The Engagé RSE label from Afnor or the EcoVadis ratingrating, which are more affordable for small companies, are a good start.

For the events themselves, LEAD-Label Event with Sustainable Ambitionis both very simple and very demanding. It seems to be a good qualitative approach, based on a clear and efficient reference system. It meets three ambitions:

  • zero waste,
  • net zero carbon,
  • positive social impact.

At all levels of society, awareness of an urgent and effective transition has increased with the pandemic episode as well as with the expression of the climate disruption we are experiencing. The events sector cannot avoid an intense mobilization on these issues, at the level of the events organized and of the professionals involved in their organization. Everyone must improve. Welcome to the advent of the responsible version of the event industry.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

Also called Corporate Social Responsibility, it is defined by the European Commission and validates the contribution of companies to the challenges of sustainable development

The international standard, ISO 26000, addresses seven main themes to validate the positive impact of a company on society: 

  • governance of the organization
  • human rights
  • working relations and conditions
  • the environment
  • fair practices
  • consumer issues
  • communities and local development.

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