Working with conscious brands: five considerations for eventprofs

CSR / 
Sarah Yeats Sarah Yeats, MD, Sledge

Sarah Yeats, MD at Sledge, reveals how partnering with brands and organisations whose work is underlined by doing good in the world can give you purpose, and inspire you to do and be better...

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is on the rise within the event industry, and companies both large and small are taking it more seriously than ever too.

Then there’s the conscious brands and organisations – such as non-profits, charities, and government departments – where this has always underlined their operations. Whether it’s empowering our youth, championing sustainability, or supporting those in need, they have identified a cause, and are committed to doing good in the world.

So, how do you go about getting on their radar, and developing long-term partnerships with them?

Don’t just say, do

Talking about what you’re doing from a CSR perspective is one thing, acting on it is another. So, first things first, take the time to develop your vision as it relates to these matters. Then, consider the ‘how’ and create a clear roadmap which outlines your long and short-term goals, and the steps you’ll need to take to achieve them.

This process will allow you to set a clear direction, it keeps everyone accountable, and ensures meaningful change is happening both internally and from a project perspective. This is a process we’ve been going through, and I’m the first to admit that it’s definitely not something you’ll achieve overnight. It’s a continuous – yet rewarding – one.

Develop messaging that resonates

Once your vision and roadmap have been finalised, share it with the wider world, by developing meaningful messaging, and a transparent communications strategy.

Strive for consistency here, and look to mediums like your website and social media platforms, develop slides and video content for credentials and pitches (and include tailored, CSR-related recommendations in these documents, even if clients don’t necessarily ask for them) and consider ways you can share initiatives with the media, and through speaking engagements. We’re all in this together, so why not share our knowledge and learnings far and wide?

Keep your community updated on your progress too – whether that’s the launch of a new policy, or sharing details of particular measures that were taken in your offices or at an event.

Remember: we’re the event pros

One of the key things we remind ourselves is that we’re the event experts. This means conscious organisations might be well versed in all things CSR, however they look to us to provide solutions when it comes to ideating, designing, and delivering experiences that achieve their core outcomes, such as treading lighter on the planet, supporting the mental health and wellbeing of the audience, and sharing their key messages, while ensuring an engaging, enjoyable and educational experience for all.

This means a consultative and collaborative approach, combined with an awareness of what CSR means to them, and an in-depth knowledge of these matters on a macro level, is essential.

Once this is known, ensure it is woven throughout every element of the event strategy, planning and management process.

Educate and gain buy in from your team

While reports such as The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey show that matters such as climate change are a concern for young people – it found 75 per cent of Gen Zs and 73 per cent of millennials feel the world is at a tipping point in responding to climate change – educating all employees, and raising awareness of the importance of CSR is vital.

We humans are wired to dislike change, so regular communication about CSR-related internal policies and practices, highlighting their benefits, and implementing them at incremental stages can go a long way, as can regular internal workshops, and training sessions from external experts.

If your people have the information, tools and resources they need, they are more likely to commit to making a difference not only through their work, they will also strive to weave it throughout their daily actions on a personal and professional level, and in conversations with all clients.

Consider your people, and your culture

Based on my first-hand experiences and those of our team, doing work that serves a higher purpose inspires us, and drives us to do better in our work and personal lives. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that the work you produce gives back in some way, and this has a positive flow on effect in that it boosts employee morale, reduces turnover, and can even help organisations attract the right talent.

Our team has developed a passion for CSR-led work for this reason, and we seek out the same qualities when it comes to hiring. If you truly want to work with conscious brands, you need your people to feel the same way. This goes back to the messaging stage, where communicating these values externally and in job postings can help you recruit the people, and add even greater meaning to your projects and business overall.

Having worked with several conscious organisations in recent years, I can’t recommend it enough. Each and every one of us has a part to play in making the world a better place, and supporting those who are committed to this, can help to bring us one step closer to creating real change.

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