A recent survey to a select group of Event Agencies in Barcelona revealed that 75% of the group never audit the sustainability conduct of their supply chain and 50% said they did not know what sustainability programmes policies or strategies their supply chain had in place.
But how can we know that, and what can we do? A dizzying range of sustainability certifications and technical lingo can often seem more hindrance than help to the discerning event organiser, whose focus has not yet turned to the world of corporate social responsibility and compliance. As with many aspects of sustainability however, the answer is often much simpler than it at first appears.
Among the actions used for monitoring supply chains, participants of the surveyed group stated, interviews with suppliers, supplier codes of conduct, supplier training and ensuring the validity of sustainability certifications.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of these tools – and a few more – to see how we might better monitor our event management supply chain:
Evaluating sustainable certification and memberships
The barrage of sustainability certifications and memberships with their endless specializations make it difficult to assess their effectiveness. Nevertheless, asking questions regarding how memberships or certifications are maintained enables organisers to interpret the level of rigor and commitment undertaken by the supplier eg. How often is adherence evaluated? What evidence must the supplier demonstrate to renew membership? Does continued membership require increasing levels of performance?
This short research empowers organisers to make informed assessments on the validity of these labels.
Distributing a Supplier Code of Conduct
A formal document from your side outlining your priority environmental, social and economic expectations will enable suppliers to recognise your “hard stops” regarding responsible standards of service.
Writing a Procurement Policy
Its cuts both ways, so as well as communicating to your suppliers what is important to you, ensure you have a policy for colleagues that details your objectives for the responsible purchasing and hiring of services.
For optimum results, provide training for both suppliers and your internal team regarding the contents of the code of conduct and policy respectively.
Carrying out Supplier Surveys
A survey to your supply chain to evaluate their level of compliance with your Supplier Code of Conduct will qualify you to understand their sustainability strengths and weaknesses – and act accordingly; be that through providing additional training, communication or simply changing your choice of supplier.
Interviews afford a more personal approach as well as detailed qualitative feedback regarding the sustainability successes of your suppliers. Use the opportunity to identify areas for collaboration on key issues.
Integrating the above approaches into your business will empower you to evaluate the sustainability performance of your supply chain, instilling confidence in communications on sustainability issues and enhancing your own reputation as a responsible supplier.
Rebecca is a Sustainability Consultant, Trainer and Auditor, specialising in tourism and events. She collaborates on various projects including the GDS-Movement and her own project, Greenshare. Her experience of working with management systems and sustainability certifications complement her trajectory through the tourism and events sector over the past 20 years