Today's Short Film Friday is a cautionary tale.
Imagine you are involved in a high-profile event with a sustainability theme. Now imagine your event is sponsored by a company who has had a questionable track record for being a responsible corporate citizen. Perhaps you're aware of the sponsor's controversial past. How would you go about raising your concerns? Could you inventory and weigh the risks and benefits? Who would you rely on for information and advice? Would you recommend against associating your event with such a company? If not, how would you proactively plan for possible concerns raised by others where you may not be in a position to decline the partnership?
Conversely, what if you didn't know of their controversial past? What if you hadn't anticipated concerns your sustainable event was associated with a less than stellar corporate citizen? How would you react to protests and criticism about greenwashing? Would you have a response plan?
The Future We Create was a virtual conference staged this week. The topic: how to supply the growing world with a sustainable supply of water. The event was hosted by the Dow Chemical Company. On the heels of the event comes a provocative challenge by Anna Lappé calling to question the credibility of an event that would not provide voice to diverse perspectives about the host's connection to water pollution and toxins in the environment.
In today's world of democratic and pervasive social media this example is a good reminder that now, more than ever, it is critical for event professionals to anticipate sustainability concerns. Particularly when it comes to creating appropriate sponsor partnerships, opening participation opportunities and being transparent about programming.