Impact. If there’s one word that sums up the panel discussion on CSR and sustainability at the last UNICEO Leaders Meeting, or rather the whole event, it’s impact. We have an impact on each other, and our environment has an impact on us. The panel discussion provided an opportunity for us to stop for a moment, look into the future together and think about what’s next for the industry.
Moderated by Orsolya Kovács (Director of Communications and Marketing at Gránit Pólus), the discussion featured Anna Almási (Director of Communications at ING Bank), Krisztina Apaczeller (Director of Sales and Marketing at IntercityHotel Budapest), Nóra Tamásné Bese (Head of Communications and Public Relations at Bethesda Children’s Hospital) and Gyuri Ruisz (Co-Founder of HighVibes).
The panel were all of one mind about the vital importance of corporate events – with UNICEO’s 2022 study having reached the same conclusion. Internal events help people band together and work for strategic goals as a team, while external events serve as important branding opportunities. Even during a pandemic or a recession.
“The demand is huge for both internal and external events, while budgets are constantly being revised,” explained Anna Almási.
Based on the UNICEO study and the panellists’ own experience, companies still organise their usual events, just perhaps with fewer participants.
“When it comes to internal events, it’s obvious that in the current economic climate, scaling back is inevitable. This also poses an internal communication challenge, as everyone needs to understand why company events are less extravagant now than they were before the pandemic. We can no longer offer the same, but at least we’re together, and that’s what really matters,” added Anna. Gyuri agreed: at HighVibes, we believe in keeping things simple, because people don’t actually need anything besides connecting with others. Connecting, however, is a must.
“People still really, really want to be good,” pointed out Nóra Bese from Bethesda Children’s Hospital. And CSR might be even more important than before: UNICEO found that nearly half of the surveyed companies were planning a charity project as part of their end-of-year event.
“The world is falling apart around us. However, this also offers companies an opportunity to show that they are more than a business. That they have an impact, that they’re bigger than we thought,” continued Gyuri.
Of course, budgetary limitations still present a challenge, but a good CSR initiative is not (just) about monetary support. In Nóra’s experience, this year’s initiatives often aim to use an already allocated budget in a socially responsible manner.
This could mean giving a recipe book compiled by hospital doctors to partners for Christmas or crocheting octopuses for premature babies in a team-building workshop.
The thing is CSR is not about one-off payments. . It’s about creating real value. “For a long time, CSR was just another buzzword, but it’s starting to become more meaningful,” said Gyuri.
It’s no longer OK to sweep sustainability issues under the carpet by saying “this is how we’ve always done it”. Krisztina Apaczeller, who meets companies in her capacity as a sustainable events venue provider, couldn’t agree more:
“It’s hard to find an organisation that hasn’t started addressing sustainability these days. Our job is to help them with the execution phase, while making sure that guests get the same level of comfort they’re used to. Quite a pioneering task, but this is the future.”
The sustainable solutions that do not involve extra costs and work are the ones that are here to stay. “A venue that’s already sustainable is a great help for companies,” added Gyuri. “Let’s not forget that the first R of the 5 R’s of waste management is ‘refuse’. So start with getting rid of everything you don’t need.”
Thank you for the great discussion – we can’t wait to continue the conversation and seek new, sustainable paths together towards a better future.