Dealing your sustainable business a better hand

My grandfather spent a chapter of his life as a card dealer in a poker hall.  A maxim he often shared was “Call a spade a spade”.

Today, in corporate reporting circles, such an approach is called “Transparency” and it occurred to me as I read this article shared by MeetGreen’s twitter feed.  The rest of this post will make more sense of you read the actual article, but at issue is a hotel who earned uncomfortable attention for their ‘green’ initiative to reduce the total guest rooms cleaned each day, thereby ostensibly reducing the energy and water required to support the cleaning.  This initiative has also had the effect of reducing the weekly earning of the housekeeping team, which is where the drama begins.

I feel this train wreck can be a nice example for how organizations often get sustainable business wrong

(in no particular order)

  • Stakeholder Engagement. (on a limb here) The organization likely did not engage affected audiences before rolling out the program.  By not providing some background and/or getting their ownership (or at least a notice), they more readily open themselves up to employee backlash.  Perhaps theirs is not a culture where such a discussion/presentation would have been deemed welcome but, as has been proven elsewhere,  employee groups more easily support tough or smart business decisions when they understand the bigger picture or feel a part of the process
  • Lack of transparency:  Consumers are more educated/more jaded than ever and when a plan like this gets communicated as being all about the environment it is, to many, offensive.  Is it an important and creative method to partner with customers to reduce costs for mutual benefit? Say that.  Let it be ok that it’s a smart business move which has measurable benefit to eco-efficiency goals if that’s the case.  The biggest benefit to the property, one might gather, is the reduced labor cost.   How that pencils with the reduced room rate would take some study, but it appears to be a successful program to reduce costs.  Why not let that be part of what is measured and reported?  Transparent reporting/communication would have helped to build trust and might even have made this article read differently
  • Green. This article raises social responsibility issues which cannot be addressed through the green lens alone.  Businesses which successfully integrate a balanced approach to sustainability, with a measured eye on social and economic indicators as well as those of eco-efficiency, will sooner prosper with a healthy corporate culture in tact.

Many guests are comfortable with the idea of going without getting their sheets and towels changed everyday and might well appreciate a reduced rate as their part of the deal.  Initiatives like these are example of the sort of innovations which bring needed improvement to reducing our impacts on our natural resources.  It’s important that, in pursuit of such initiatives, organizations have clear plans based on triple bottom line considerations, including social elements of the business, and provide transparent reporting on the results of their decisions.  Call a spade a spade and avoid messes like these.

Presentation: How to measure in sustainable events

Hugo Kimber of the Carbon Consultancy and I joined forced to give a combined training course on how to measure sustainability data in events and meetings. This was delivered as a workshop at the MPI event in Turin.

Below is the presentation. If you would like to see the presentation with a recorded audio accompaniment please click here. There is some excellent audience participation especially from the Danish attendees who explain how they are preparing Copenhagen for Cop15.

The session provides an introduction and practical guide to measurement and achievement of clear objectives on sustainability in the planning and delivery of meetings and events.

Delegates who already have a basic understanding of sustainability and are keen to advance in this increasingly important area of meetings management are ideal for this session and will walk away with the information and guidance required to make an immediate impact in the delivery of sustainable events.

The presentation discuss GreenWashing and how to use measurement to build credibility in your sustainability strategy.

Creating and Marketing Sustainable Destinations

With the growing trend of sustainability, many destinations are now preparing themselves as “green meeting destinations”. In 2008, we increasingly started to work with DMOs and CVBs who wanted to go green. Not surprisingly cities are seeing that green has financial, branding and motivational benefits.

The following presentation highlights the high level findings of some introductory research into the green pioneering cities. We extrapolated the best practice and top ideas from these and others examples, and then created a strategic sustainable destination framework. We are now using this in our consulting work, and it is helping to speed up strategic planning and implementation of operational and marketing programs.


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