Using business to create positive change in the world is a win/win scenario. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) isn't a new concept, but it's one that has evolved considerably over time and gained significant traction, to the point where many have come to expect businesses to pay back to the community. A massive 74 per cent of incentive travel programmes incorporate CSR initiatives, according to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE).
In this article, we discuss the why and how you can incorporate CSR into your next corporate event or incentive travel programme.
What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)?
Simply put, CSR is about how companies enhance the world.
The concept of CSR has undergone an evolution since its widespread uptake in the 1990s. Initially focused on environmental sustainability, it has evolved to become inclusive of humanitarian issues and philanthropy. Today, CSR is about balancing fiscal, social, environmental and employer responsibilities.
Corporate social responsibility is about growing positive change in the world.
CSR as a general organisational policy refers to both the quality of management practices in terms of people and processes, and the nature and volume of the business's impact on society. In the wider business environmental, this can mean ensuring an ethical supply chain, enacting employment policies to improve quality of life, and positively contributing to economic growth, for example.
In the realm of corporate meetings, events and incentive travel, CSR strategies can be incorporated through the donation of proceeds, appropriate management of event staff and procurement logistics and strategic NGO partnerships.
Why you should incorporate CSR into your next event
"Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society."
This quote from Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, demonstrates the growing importance of CSR. The demand for CSR policies from both consumers and employees is only due to increase, with millennials predicted by Statista to account for 35 per cent of the global workforce by 2020 and Generation Z rapidly gaining buying power. The 2017 Millennial Impact Report reveals millennials are only growing more invested in corporate philanthropy and social improvement. The workforce and consumer market are quickly being populated by history's most socially responsible demographics and it's vital businesses adapt to their demands.
As socially responsible millennials and Generation Z take over the workforce, CSR is growing ever important.
A global study by the Reputation Institute positively correlates the adoption of CSR strategies with improved perception of the company. Over 80 per cent of people worldwide exhibit higher trust and purchase intent toward businesses with excellent corporate responsibility.
The same study provides evidence to the financial benefits of CSR as well, highlighting that a 5 point increase in CSR score yields a 7.7 per cent boost in willingness to invest in the company. Notably, Google possesses one of the highest CSR scores and enjoyed a 33 per cent stock price increase in 2017-18.
With a CSR strategy in place, your business event can play a part in a broader goal to:
Lead global causes
|Benefit from greater purchase intent|
|Establish itself as a desirable employer|
Increase healthy behaviours
|Generate trust from employees and customers|
Positively impact society
5 ways to incorporate CSR into your next corporate event
Integrating CSR initiatives into your next corporate event is simple enough, but your embedded project must be strategically selected to ensure it supports your CSR goals and delivers brand value for your business and sponsors.
Your CSR initiative should, therefore:
- Build trust,
- Engage delegates in your event,
- Create meaningful change that is fed back to delegates,
- Extend beyond the event.
Your delegates can come together and enact meaningful change as one with a CSR initiative at your event.
There are many ways you could look to embed a strategic CSR approach into your event or incentive travel programme, including any of the following.
1. Donations as corporate gifts
Corporate gifts are an excellent way to thank delegates for attending your event and leave them with a lasting reminder of your brand. However, some gifts may be more appreciated than others and it's difficult to guarantee all delegates will value them.
Choosing to make a donation on behalf of your delegates reduces waste and contributes the cost of corporate gifts to a positive cause instead. Thanking your delegates with personalised messages about their donations can help to build trust and remind your delegates of your event in post.
2. Incorporating the destination
Your unique event destination can act as a playground for your delegates while also supporting CSR initiatives. By inviting guests to explore the city using a scavenger hunt, for example, you can encourage them to engage with the local community and economy. Have delegates pick up nonperishable food items, donated by businesses at each stop in the hunt, and pass these on to local shelters or community pantries.
3. Engage delegates in volunteer programmes
Event or incentive travel delegates can enjoy a hands-on experience, forming emotional ties with the cause by investing their own time and effort into supporting it. Invite your delegates to engage in volunteer action that educates and engages them, such as building beehives or simple devices to support those in need.
For example, cievents has partnered with SolarBuddy to create lights for those living in energy poverty.
INTRODUCING THE SOLARBUDDY INITIATIVE
SolarBuddy is an Australia-based charity working to educate and empower the next generation to make positive change to energy poverty, renewable resources and global citizenship. A shocking 1.4 billion people worldwide don't have access to electricity. As a result, they are living in energy poverty - unable to rely on the technology so many of us use every day. Many must turn to dangerous kerosene lanterns, battery-powered torches or wood fires to see at night, limiting their potential and putting them at risk.
The gift of a SolarBuddy solar light helps disenfranchised children study after the sun goes down, improving education outcomes and overall health and wellbeing. To date, the charity has delivered over 40,000 lights to 20 countries and partners with leading organisations across the globe.
How cievents is partnering with SolarBuddy
The cievents team has partnered with SolarBuddy to bring whole communities into the light and invest in the global population's future. Our staff, event and meetings clients and their delegates are encouraged to build SolarBuddy lights as a CSR initiative within cievents and optionally integrated into your event. Our goal is to build 10,000 lights through our meetings and events before 30 June 2019.
We have also embedded SolarBuddy into our own incentive programme, with six staff members from around the globe to accompany SolarBuddy to Cambodia to deliver the lights and witness first-hand the impact their work has had.
Future-minded organisations don't only minimise their impact - they work to put good back into the world. The cievents team can feature social responsibility as a core part of your brand messaging in any event - reach out today to find out more.