How to Incorporate ESG Standards in Your Events

Max Li Feb 28, 2023

How to Incorporate ESG Standards in Your Events

 Growing awareness of ESG develops an obligation for us event planners to submit.

To keep up with this movement, we must comply with ESG standards, and this article will reveal everything you need to know to be ESG-compliant and incorporate ESG standards in your events. 

What is ESG Compliance? 

ESG compliance is an increasingly important consideration for corporations. ESG-compliant companies are proactive toward creating a sustainable future. It monitors practices such as employee rights, diversity, climate change initiatives, investor relations, and more.

ESG compliance enables businesses to be responsive to their stakeholders, which is best completed by complying with ESG standards. 

Check out what ESG is here!

ESG Standards

You would think ESG standards come as to-do boxes, but they can never be adequately fulfilled simply through box-checking. ESG standards are a framework for investors to evaluate and identify the impacts of companies' performances, an essential aspect of making investment decisions.

Here are some of the most widely-referred frameworks and standards: 

1. SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board)

The SASB Standards are organized into 77 industries across 11 sectors: consumer goods, extractives and minerals processing, financials, food and beverage, health care, infrastructure, renewable resources and alternative energy, resource transformation, services, technology and communications, and transportation.

Under these sectors are more specific industry titles, such as logistics, insurance, apparel, etc. Look at their website to understand the ESG standards for every field and industry! 

2. GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) 

The GRI standards are a series of three related measures.

The Universal Standards apply to all companies and industries, while the Sector Standards target to create quality ESG reports on 40 industries, such as oil and gas, finance, agriculture, and more.

Finally, the Topic Sector reveals information on tax, waste disposal, etc. The GRI Standards is one of the most widely-referred frameworks; you can check this guideline out to learn more about GRI in detail!

3. TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures)

The task force was established in 2015 to pinpoint climate-related risks to investors.

The TCFD framework comprises four main pillars- governance, strategy, metrics and targets, and risk management.

There are 11 recommendations among the pillars, and companies can use them to evaluate and disclose the risks and opportunities for investors. Click here to learn about the 11 recommendations in detail!


Why Do We Need to Be ESG Compliant? 

Because it boosts a company’s credibility and competitiveness! It is never wrong to be associated with sustainability in the market.

Macroly speaking, different stock exchange markets, from New York to London to Hong Kong, strive to transform companies into sustainable brands by emphasizing ESG standards, reflecting how the ESG trend is not only blooming in the event industry.

 ESG compliance is becoming increasingly important in event planning as more and more organizations realize the vast positive impact ESG-certified events could have on sustainability; 77% of small to mid-caps have an ESG-related formal purpose statement, telling us ESG standards are not exclusive to mega-corporations.

ESG-standard-fulfilled events promote sustainability by encouraging ethical and responsible practices throughout the event-planning process, including producing and disposing of materials used, transportation methods, energy conservation measures, and much more.

ESG-compliant events are cost-effective because they have a minimal environmental impact while adhering to higher ethical standards.

By considering ESG standards when planning events, organizations demonstrate a commitment to global sustainability efforts and corporate social responsibility from an individual and industry-wide perspective. 

Overall, ensuring ESG compliance will benefit not just the people attending the event but also protect the environment and the reputation of businesses hosting them with minimal negative output or associated risk.

Trends on Events in The Post-pandemic Era 

Of course, you understand how the pandemic forced the event industry into a near hiatus state during the pandemic.

Canceled or postponed events, in-person events switching to online events made it all quiet in the industry.

However, as most countries loosen COVID regulations, the return of events in all forms is predictable. Let’s look at what is on the minds of event planners- according to a 2022 Encore report-

  • 71% of event professionals are engaging in booking or sourcing events
  • 38% of planners expect to spend significantly more on food and beverage (F&B)
  • 30% of planners are willing to spend considerably more on transportation
  • 35% of planners are hoping to spend substantially more on technology
  • 49% of respondents regard hotels as the most popular event venue, and 37% of them expect to pay considerably more for hotel room rates
  • 80% of meetings in 2023 will have an in-person audience
  • 45% of respondents foresee better attendee engagement in 2023 

From the above data, we can expect more waves of events, primarily hybrid or in-person.

Budget stats show that F&B, transportation, technology, and hotel rooms are some of the most prominent platforms to apply ESG standards since around a third of respondents are willing to spend notably more on them.

It is visible that there are much more event opportunities from now on. Hence, this is the best time to understand how to incorporate ESG standards in your events to boost market competitiveness, value, and reputation.  

Check out our conference on post-pandemic event trends on 7 March!


Sustainable ESG Companies 

Understanding how the big boys play the game is always a good idea when learning yourself. Here are some of the leading ESG companies of 2022: 


1. Intel Corporation 

Yes, you had that right. Despite being a giant in the manufacturing industry, a sector whose carbon emissions makeup 30% of the United State’s total emissions, Intel is more ESG-aware than you think.

Striving to reach net-zero emissions across all its plants and facilities by 2040, Intel is ambitious in ESG compliance.

Not only did Intel decrease 2% of their total greenhouse emissions last year, but they are also ready to invest over 300 million USD in the near future to save 4 billion kilowatt hours, making them one of the most ESG-synonymous companies in the world. 


2. Apple Inc. 

Tech pioneer Apple is also in the game. Apple aspires to be carbon neutral by 2030, and though the objective seems farfetched, they are making solid progress.

According to Apple, recycled materials assemble one-fifth of its products, and are working hard to boost this figure.

Apple also reduced its carbon emissions by 40% in just six years- from 2015 -2021, indicating its substantial efforts to be ESG-compliant. 


3. Bank of America Corporation 

Bank of America is one of the most ESG-compliant corporates in the world-  For example, they have invested $300 billion over ten years in clean energy sources, helping to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.

Governance-wise, the company has adopted ESG standards during effective decision-making processes and requires board directors to receive yearly ESG training.

Bank of America Corporation is prioritizing ESG compliance; as such, it is safe to say that the company is ESG compliant.


What to Bear in Mind When Planning an ESG-compliant Event

We always struggle to catch up with new trends and never want to get it wrong, especially when it’s such a critical and paramount standard.

Often we find it difficult even to start getting ESG into practice, and hence to be successful, I find it helpful to bear these few things in mind: 

1. Familiarize yourself with ESG Standards. 

Let’s face it- one of the biggest reasons we find it hard to begin complying is that we lack adequate knowledge about the topic.

According to research by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the University of Chicago, only 21% of respondents understood what the letters in ESG meant.

By familiarizing yourself with ESG standards, you are already doing better than nearly 80% of other companies in the market.

Understanding ESG standards well could also increase your competitiveness in the market, as around 78% of consumers say they will stop buying from companies that treat the environment, employees, or the community poorly.

We can see by performing ESG-compliant actions, you can win the favor of over three-quarters of consumers.

I cannot stress this enough, but familiarizing yourself with ESG standards should be the essential thing to bear in mind when planning your event. 


2. Be Patient and Specific

Assuming you have already familiarized yourself- or even when you are just starting to do so, you must acknowledge it is normal to take baby steps at first.

Most people would get overwhelmed by the immense amount of content you’ll perceive after understanding ESG standards, but you don't need to tackle all of them at once!

Instead of trying to endorse greenness, gender equality, anti-corruption, anti-exploitation, or any other related themes in your event at once, why not just pinpoint just one or two ESG ideas?

You can start by initiating more straightforward ESG standard measures, such as providing reusable utensils instead of disposable ones or inviting transgender speakers to provide a platform for minorities.

These ideas are just some of the many ways to start your ESG-compliant journey in planning events. 


3. Be Proactive and Alert 

It is always better to prevent than cure. 

Even if you really can’t think of any ESG-compliant initiatives for your event, you could still try to spot existing procedures you have been carrying on for your previous events.

Then, think of ways to enhance the display of  ESG standards! Try sourcing locally grown vegetables instead of imported ones that would contribute significantly to carbon emissions through transportation, and make them into your complimentary salads.

Or, collaborate with companies from regions with a high Corruption Perception Index score (the higher than cleaner),  signifying countries with a lower index would miss out on business opportunities.

When all seems too overwhelming, modifying the existing event planning procedures into more ESG-compliant ones is a great way to start your planning journey. 

    Want to know more about hybrid events? Check out our blog post on why they are so popular!

Tips for Incorporating ESG Ideas into Your Event

1. Book Public Transport-friendly Venues

Imagine your 300 attendees coming separately in 300 taxis- the emissions would be immense.

Hence any venue that is easily accessible by public transport is better!

Even if not, try contacting a local bicycle company, initiate car-sharing, or provide rentable electric cars. 


2. Reduce Waste Actively

Provide reusable utensils instead of single-time disposable ones!

Are your suppliers active in waste reduction? It would be a good idea to understand their waste management policies.

You could also provide ‘sustainable swag’ as souvenirs, which would be classier and more sincere in displaying your ESG compliance. 

3. Be Aware of Subcontractor Practices

As an organizer, you must be very alert whether anyone involved in creating the event is being exploited.

Are the audio/visual crew getting what they deserve? Or is the souvenir manufacturer demanding long working hours from its workers?

No matter its scale, an event is always a joint effort of multiple parties, and it is only worthwhile when every one of them is ESG-compliant.

Try setting higher standards for subcontractors for your next event- you could discover better alternatives. 


4. Make Your Event a Platform for Different Voices to Be Heard 

Don’t refrain from inviting transgender, homosexual people, or minorities to be your guest speakers!

Not only do they add to the diversity of your event, but they could also provide a new perspective for some participants in society, raising awareness of such groups. 

Your brand/company's image would also be closer to ESG-synonymous. 

To Wrap Up…

We can all sniff the total return of events by now- and that is why we must acquire ESG knowledge by familiarizing ourselves with ESG standards and gearing ourselves up with tips that could boost your event’s sustainability.

It is no longer enough for an event to be ecologically friendly in the 21st century- it also needs to ensure its staff and participants adhere to ethical standards of conduct and that organizational policies are transparent, fair, and have stakeholder interests at heart.

We hope you can take a thing or two from this article, and best of luck with your next event!

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