As the events industry recovers from the incredible blow of the pandemic, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become more important than ever. Smart Meetings has collected some examples of how corporations can organize to support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), the ways in which corporate gift giving can pay it forward and how the event industry can give back to their environments through partnerships with charities and nonprofit organizations.

EIC Fights for DEI

The Events Industry Council (EIC) partnered with its global EIC Equity Task Force to conduct its 2022 Equity Benchmarking Study as it launches its cohesive Equity Acceleration Plan. In a press release in October, the EIC revealed there was “widespread DEI dissatisfaction amongst event professionals, minority groups and women.”

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The EIC’s Equity Acceleration Plan measured the DEI experience of event professionals on specific criteria—ownership, accountability and power of influence, delivering change and sustaining change. Jason Dunn, EIC Equity Task Force Co-Chair and past chairman of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals, was disappointed with the results. The survey reports 83% of all survey respondents who were employed event professionals were dissatisfied with DEI in the industry.

“Bottom line, the events industry propels the global economy, through thoughtful high impact events,” says Dunn. “It’s time for us to apply the same commitment, resources and metrics at an accelerated pace to intertwine DEI principles in all that we do.”

Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City Resorts and AVANZAR

Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City Resorts has partnered with Avanzar through the company’s Caesars Foundation grant to donate $40,000 and to bring awareness to the nonprofits cause to raise awareness and bring support to the efforts to end human trafficking. Joe Lodise, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Caesars Atlantic City, explains how “people, planet and play” are the focus of Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic Resorts when discussing CSR options for events.

“Under this CSR framework, we are committed to supporting social equity, education, climate change, food security, responsible play and mental health,” says Lodise.

Caesars partners with several other local organizations to give back to the community, including Food Bank of South Jersey, Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City and American Cancer Society.

“We believe that with a focus on service, a willingness to forge new paths and a commitment to moving forward together, we can create incredible experiences, cultivate opportunities and make a difference for our guests, team members and the world around us,” says Lodise.

ETHOS Event Collective

ETHOS Event Collective teamed up with Bombas at IMEX 2022 to utilize CSR in aiding the homeless issue Las Vegas has been facing. For every person that stopped by the ETHOS Event Collective booth, Bombas and ETHOS both donated a pair of socks to Las Vegas Rescue Mission. Socks are the most requested item from those affected by homelessness, and the ETHOS partnership with Bombas doubled the results to produce over 500 pairs of socks for the cause. Smart Meetings sat down with Joe Fijol, founder of ETHOS Event Collective, to discuss the importance of CSR.

“I think it defines a company,” says Fijol. “Identifying in your backyard, the local communities and most in need.”

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In 2023, ETHOS will be collaborating with Chapman Partnership in South Florida to invigorate the community that has been affected by homelessness. “My passion project is the kids,” says Fijol. “There are 13,000 kids in South Florida that are orphans that need a home.”

Fijol says charitable “passion projects” like this are what make CSR so important and what makes ETHOS stand out in the corporate gifting options.

“I think you would work with us because we’re doing our due diligence on some of these charities and we know what the impact is going to be long term because there’s a lot of need right now.”

Sonesta and Best Friends Animal Society

This roundup of CSR has highlighted some of the amazing ways in which companies in the events industry give back to the communities, and a voice should be heard from the opposite side of the partnership to understand the impact and meaning of CSR. Sonesta has paired with Best Friends Animal Society in their efforts to save homeless animals. Their goal is to stop the killing in shelters and breaking the cycle of breed discrimination. Anne Travous, Brand Partnerships Manager for Best Friends Animal Society, expresses her gratitude for pet friendly Sonesta seeking to team up with the organization.

“I think we’re very fortunate and Sonesta has been wonderful as a partner in being really authentic and being really excited to support us,” says Travous. “Corporate Social Responsibility is hugely important to the work that we do…a lot of the work that we do has had the capacity to be impactful because of the funding we receive from those corporate partners.”

The partnership with Sonesta has become a way to bring awareness to the organization through more than just donations. “They (Sonesta) developed coasters for all of their lounge and bar areas,” says Travous. “The coaster had four or five different stories of pets that have been saved through Best Friends Animal Society.”