“Sweat, Tears and Bloody Knuckles: How our Sustainability Report is making us a better company”
The idea was simple enough. Rather than deliver the minimum effort to be compliant with the UN Global Compact Communications on Progress requirement, we’d take additional steps to conduct measurements of the known sustainability impacts of our business. We would, we mused, create a report which complied with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) criteria for transparent communication of our company’s business performance.
What started as a simple concept proved, in actuality, to be a long and challenging process of data mining and fact chasing across 45 offices, 22 countries and hundreds of people. We simply, did not have any processes installed to allow us to conduct accurate measurement of our social and environmental impacts.
Now that its done, the difficulties we experienced, had the unexpected result of creating elevated engagement from our team and a valuable revamp of – and renewed commitment to – our sustainable business strategy. The process of evaluating our business strategy along with the operational impacts of our business was an opportunity to gain active participation from people within the organization who didn’t previously see their direct connection to sustainable business practices.
This infusion of new ideas and new energy from a broad cross section of our company also meant that the process of completing the report required a greater investment of time. But we wouldn’t trade that experience to have done it any faster. It was this very process of completing forms and asking questions and following up with different offices, which delivered the greatest insights, helping us to identify barriers to success and build a stronger culture of sustainability. But dont´just take my word for it: here is a video of our CEO Sebastien Tondeur, communicating the report to our staff last week:[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vha1NJV8M9Y ]
Like many things the first time is always a challenge. We have already started to prepare our 2011 report and we are now improving and creating new and more integrated processes that will allow us to collect data simply and easily. The next report will be much better and less stressful to produce.
Although this is our second report, it is our first to be GRI checked. We believe that we are the first international meetings and events agency to complete a sustainability report which meets GRI criteria for transparent communication of business performance. It also uses a draft of the new GRI Event Organisers Sector Supplement which we have been involved in creating.
While we are very proud of that, we understand that the real value of reporting isn’t in the PR of showing that we’re compliant with GRI standards or even by providing a helpful example for others in the industry, the real value is the process itself which step by step, is helping us make a better company.
You can read our report here and we very much welcome your suggestions, criticism and ideas to improve this disclosure.