2021 is already becoming a seismic year for sustainability. With citizens holding governments to account, consumers, holding businesses to account, and staff holding their companies to account, there continues to be a massive move towards ‘complete’ sustainability.
It’s also no secret that, in the wake of the pandemic, the meetings industry is looking more closely on what it does, how it does it and the effects it has on the world; both positive and negative. Event organisers are being driven by the commitments laid out by their businesses, by their own values as individuals, as well as those of their delegations. This is a noisy marketplace though, and sustainability means dozens of different things to dozens of different people or businesses, and they don’t always complement. So how can organisers negotiate this as they look to spend their company’s money in a sustainable way?
One of the mantras for many in this new ‘complete’ sustainability world is to reward intent as well as outcomes. That the notion that a venue or event supplier that is setting targets, and looking to reach them, should be applauded; whether its reducing plastic or saving water, or using hand dryers or choosing paper towels as the best way to save either energy or resources.
This means that, from top to bottom, we have the latest reduce, reuse, recycle systems in place; from the way the building traps and reuses heat and energy, to our approach to food and food waste. It means that our hiring and staff management programmes are built on foundations that show our care for our local communities, and our desire to create jobs for local people who have not previously had the same chances as others, regardless of sex, colour, culture or creed.
Changing Rooms are not fixtures that can be added after the building is finished, the business has to understand their importance and endorse their importance from the design phrase. It shows an understanding of what accessibility should mean and demonstrates a true welcome for everyone that comes to the event, free of prejudice.
The meetings and events industry is all about values. For businesses, the choice of a venue goes beyond the facilities to the values of the business it works with. Sustainability ticks a box and plays a vital role in supporting the businesses own commitments. Ethics though, we feel, goes beyond this. It shows a deeper set of values that are sewn not just into the fabric of the venue, but that of every event it hosts.
It’s a convenient way for buyers to choose those businesses that care about sustainability and those that don’t.
At The Eastside Rooms though, we’re looking to take an even wider view that reaches beyond just sustainability and extends into what we are calling ‘Ethical Business’. For us, sustainability is just one commitment that a business should have to its communities, be they local, national or international.
As a business we’ve looked at everything from our staffing procedures, ensuring we are giving opportunities to people across society, to our involvement in the Changing Rooms programme, allowing those with severe disabilities the dignity of a specialist room to receive specific care.
It’s our belief that, like an event, you can’t just organise it, and then go back and try and make everything sustainable; you have to start from concept to create a sustainable event. It’s the same with venues; you can’t retrofit sustainability or ethics.
This Ethical Business stance was established long before The Eastside Rooms was launched; it started as a concept, and went on throughout the build, fit-out, and is now a part of the fabric of the building and the way we do business with our customers.