Green meetings have returned to the spotlight. Both sponsors and program participants continue to place importance on green events and incentive-travel strategies. Many organizations are looking internally and rethinking what it means to be green.
My colleague Brian Hunt and I recently attended and presented at the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) Annual Summit. Our presentation, Green Strategies that Create both Business and Attendee Value, was an open discussion among more than 90 attendees.
Many questions came up regarding the difference between green-focused and green-friendly meetings and events. From the discussion, we’ve developed three ways to improve green strategy and create awareness within an organization.
Green in the Absence of Vision, Mission and Values
It’s important for companies to openly communicate green-related positioning, goals and practices. When an organization lacks this in its vision, mission and values statements, it’s highly likely that the culture doesn’t perceive the company as either green-friendly or green-focused.
Each organization needs to take a well-positioned stand to ensure it effectively communicates the importance of green to help employees, customers and channel partners think more green.
From a Single to a Triple Bottom Line
To draw forward the values of what green-related strategies can mean, organizations need to evolve beyond standard performance concepts. In this case, it’s a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) concept that provides stronger strategic direction and a set of performance metrics based on People, Planet and Profit.
When green-related adoptions take place with only one or two of these in mind, we simply miss the mark of achieving the most effective value. Evaluating across the TBL requires an appreciation of both tangible and intangible values of fiscal, quantitative and qualitative insights.
‘Crawl’, ‘Walk’ and ‘Run’ Approaches
Organizations are interested in how green adoptions affect program operations, economics and overall participant experiences. To understand these areas, we need to consider the progressive steps that help grow our green adoptions from both an organizational sponsor, as well as from a participant’s viewpoint. Not too fast, not too slow, but at a pace that inspires adoption, provides meaningful experiences and influences future commitments.
Companies can easily assess how green they currently are and establish a benchmark for progress moving forward by asking the following questions:
• Do we integrate green efforts early in the meeting/event or incentive-travel planning process?
• How are we translating our green principles into actionable practices?
• Are our green practices strategic or do they represent standalone tactics?
• Do we work with sponsors, suppliers and vendors that align to our core principles?
• How are we evaluating performance?
Going green requires long-term and unwavering commitment to the Triple Bottom Line – People, Planet and Profit. Answering simple questions about current green initiatives and setting future benchmarks helps provide direction for future efforts.
As companies progress, it is important to celebrate success, openly promote and advise others, and challenge those within the organization to change for the better. Together, we all make a greater difference.