“Walking the talk”, “thinking outside the box” – both sayings make my teeth ache and a tiny vessel on the side of my head pulse ever so slightly. In fact, every time I catch myself saying or using these phrases, I envision a unicorn disappearing POOF!
So, why did I title my article, Walking the Talk? Simply, I couldn’t think of a better way of describing how a planner can fully embrace Corporate Social Responsibility, commonly known as CSR. Therefore, despite the fact that I am now responsible for two unicorn deaths, I am going to proceed.
Last month I wrote an article called 30 days to a more sustainable you where I challenged those involved in the meeting industry to commit a single “act of green” each and every day for 30 days. Building on that concept, I want to talk a bit about how CSR helps to round out the person that is now the greener, keener you.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility? CSR has been defined as everything from having a “social conscience” to demonstrating social responsibility towards your community. It also includes ethics and the improvement of the quality of life.
A positive and exciting trend in the meeting and event industry is the embedding of CSR activities into the event agenda. Attendees may select to participate in a community activity such as sorting at a local food bank or assisting with a “build or paint” project. Not only do these activities benefit the local community, they also encourage attendee interaction and contribute to a sense of well-being.
CSR shouldn’t be something that we only include into the events that we plan. Giving back, contributing to the community in which we live, should be a part of each of our lives and contributes to the well rounded new “sustainable you”.
How to begin? Here are some tips:
- It should be a good fit: Not every charity or non profit will be a good fit for everyone, but I am certain that there is one out there that you can believe in, commit to, and feel good about supporting. Do your research.
- Long term or short term: Determine if you will be able to commit to multiple, smaller, short term activities throughout the year or if you will only be able to manage one large activity. Knowing this in advance will assist you in selecting a project or organization.
- Be unconventional: Consider other, non traditional ways of giving back, which may include: mentorship and business coaching.
- Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out the first time: Keep looking! There is something that will be perfect for you – don’t give up.
- Develop relationships: Planners who spend time working on volunteer projects within a community may develop relationships that will assist them with finding additional CSR projects for their clients.
Who do I support and why? I support the Alzheimer Society because my grandmother suffered with the disease. I volunteer and participate in different events throughout the year as well as assist in planning an annual fundraiser. The relationship works because I have a connection to the organization, and feel good about supporting it. I can use my skill set to assist and have met some wonderful individuals along the way.