A survey of MCI’s largest 50 clients revealed that 100% wanted to implement more sustainable elements, but were stopped by either a lack of knowledge, a failure of the suppliers to communicate their sustainability offering, or the perception/reality of the sustainable option being more expensive. But it is both responsible and economically viable to implement more sustainable conferences.
Some organizations believe they have to choose between the largely social benefits of developing sustainable solutions and the financial costs of doing so. But that’s simply not true. Studies show that sustainability is a mother lode of organizational and technological innovations that yield both bottom-line and top-line returns.
“Becoming environment-friendly lowers costs because companies end up reducing the inputs they use. In addition, the process generates additional revenues from better products or enables companies to create new businesses. In fact, because those are the goals of corporate innovation, we find that smart companies now treat sustainability as innovation’s new frontier,” says Ram Nidumolu, Founder and CEO of InnovaStrat, a Santa Cruz–based firm that helps companies design and implement sustainability strategies and new business models (Source: Harward Business review).
There are ways to cut costs by encouraging your business partners to act sustainably too. For instance, demanding that your suppliers adhere to specific CSR requirements creates a competitive environment and enables better products at no additional costs.
Suppliers that use too much energy, water or materials, or produce more waste and carbon than necessary, are spending too much and passing those costs along. Initiatives to reduce energy, carbon, water, materials and waste typically have rapid payback periods and may be among the lowest risk projects an organization can undertake.
Hosting a sustainable event does not equal overspending your budget. The 2012 Danish EU Presidency cost 35 million Euros. This is less than 1/3 of the costs of the previous Polish EU presidency, which amounted to 115 million Euros.
These savings were achieved by choosing partners, who were focused on cost savings as well as sustainability.
All aspects of the logistics of the presidency were scrutinized, initiatives were carried out using busses instead of limousines, removing expensive bottled water and expensive giveaways, and using only locally grown food products.
“Embedding effective sustainability within and among enterprises can provide numerous corporate benefits, including competitive differentiation and positive brand image; cost efficiencies in energy, water and waste management; and potential for gaining share of new and growing market segments,” says Karen Butner, Global Supply Chain Management Lead, IBM Institute for Business Value. (Source: IBM).
By digging deeper and doing market research, you can uncover the sustainability priorities of your key customers and competitors and measure customer sustainability priorities against your product attributes and brand positioning.
Incorporating sustainability into your business strategy
Some companies are seizing the opportunity to use sustainability initiatives to drive competitive advantage by integrating sustainability principles into their core business strategy, products and services, and brand propositions.
Sustainable Event Management (SEM) is the process of designing and organising an event following sustainable development principles in order to achieve strategic goals, which serve the economic, environmental and social interests of organisers, delegates and host communities.
SEM is more than eliminating bottled water or offsetting the event-related carbon emissions. SEM is a strategic way to lead and operate events and meetings. It includes strategies, policies, processes, systems and actions that intertwine to support and manage events more efficiently, effectively and professionally.
When you plan a green meeting or event, it automatically gets a ‘tighter profile,’ making it easier to communicate to an audience that goes beyond those directly involved in the process and hence more impactful.