Las Vegas, NV – During Smart Monday at IMEX America, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) delivered initial findings of Phase 1 of a three-year study on industry corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices that will provide guidance to meeting professionals on benchmarks and effective practices to consider in their event design. The comprehensive study, commissioned by MPI, creates an unprecedented global view of industry CSR by surveying the opinions of organizational leaders and exploring implementation practices of top venues, suppliers and consumers as well as aggregating critical information from hundreds of existing studies and white papers on CSR.

“CSR continues to be a focus of successful organizations and we must take the industry conversation beyond basic green efforts and into comprehensive planning and action,” said Bruce MacMillan, MPI president and CEO reiterating one of the four new rules of engagement discussed at the 2011 World Education Congress. “With these results, professionals are equipped to enact change based on the characteristics of their specific organization, impacting economic, social and environmental progress in their communities.”

The Oct. 10 session led by Leeds Metropolitan University researcher James Musgrave was sponsored by MPI as the strategic partner and premier education provider of the inaugural IMEX America. Musgrave, a senior lecturer at the University, released the major findings in his presentation which included

*   third-party CSR accreditation is a growing trend;
*   transparency and verifiability of CSR are increasingly important;
*   lack of a clear definition of CSR causes fragmented implementation;
*   meeting industry can help demonstrate commitment through “experiential CSR.”

In a review of more than 200 expert articles, case studies and websites academic researchers from the UK Centre for Events Management at Leeds Metropolitan University, The International Centre for Responsible Tourism and the Centre for Hospitality found a very fragmented definition of CSR, resulting in various methods of implementation globally. Regulatory codes of practice vary regionally with up to 300 different codes, adding to the clutter surrounding industry CSR. This creates an opportunity where industry rather than legislative organizations shape the CSR agenda.

The research suggests that for overarching best practice and to remove barriers to implementation, businesses and professionals should avoid a one-size-fits-all approach when considering resource allocation and tying CSR initiatives to business drivers.  Utilizing this report enables meeting and event professionals to learn and determine whether their organization should employ a shareholder, stakeholder or societal approach to CSR based on their own CSR drivers. The research also outlines clearly three areas of implementation practices for all elements of social responsibility, and breaks them into “must”, “should” and “can” opportunities.

Phase two of the research includes in depth interviews and surveys, which will involve responses from all levels of experience and various industries. Data collected will be further analyzed and presented as a final report at the World Education Congress in St. Louis in July 2012. The process will continue for the remainder of the contracted three-year initiative.

“These indicative findings give an insight into the complexity of CSR, with the research happening right now worldwide, we will be able to see what industry pioneers consider will be the drivers, values and importance of CSR in the present and future,” said Musgrave.

There are plans for more sustainability implementation tools based on the research findings, MPI already has available a number of resource documents, programs and tools through a generous investment from the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG).  Currently, the Sustainable Event Measurement Tool (SEMT) is open to all suppliers and planners, where the aggregate data is used to benchmark progress in industry sustainability efforts. In addition to the SEMT, three new case studies bring insight from leading organizations on the implementation of sustainability practice will be released later this month.  Access reports, the SEMT and more on the CSR Portal of mpiweb.org.