COVID forced the meetings industry to hit pause and reevaluate the impact large gatherings have on the planet and the positive change they can instead create, both environmentally and socially. The message is loud and clear to (most) associations, destinations and event planners, but good intentions are not enough to make a difference. There is a gap both to the extent of awareness all stakeholders have and to the appropriate course of action needed to move from mere intent to visible results.
“If you work on your DEI, you’re also working on climate changes; I believe the two are completely interlinked. I’ve recently seen there’s a real wish and want to do more on the matter, but there’s maybe a lack of understanding on how to go about it,” says Rory Archibald, founder of New Intent. “Which is why I felt the time is right to launch a new organization to advocate on the importance of such topics and make their presence more profound during an event.”
What Is ‘New Intent’?
New Intent is a pro-social organization meant to bring the events community together in order to realize its potential and find solutions to global challenges in DEI and environmental issues. “It’s all about bringing people together to share their concerns and challenges, but also to gather the best practices, to bring in experts to help in niche areas where people don’t have the answers,” he continues. “We want to take some of these discussions out of the longest darkest corridor away from the main conference room or from a breakout session and turn that into something that should be on the main stage and be the keynote speech and the main focus of some of our industry education.”
Practicing what we preach is not easy. Minds and policies change if evidence it can be done effectively is presented. New Intent is calling out for partnerships and memberships across the industry and across the globe to gather recommendations that the industry could adopt and examples that have taken place within associations or destinations and present this research in a white paper, discuss it at conferences and create educational opportunities.
Count on Associations & Destinations
Associations are key to this transition and can play a leading role in conveying the message. “There’s so many associations out there that have different specializations and different niches that can feed into DEI,”says Archibald. “Some of them already have some very good practices and their values are all about creating inclusivity and raising awareness. Sharing them will give the less advanced on such matters members of the events industry (some strategists, destinations and organizations) assistance to put these elements in place. Through New Intent’s vision we hope that we can bring together people from different elements in different parts of the spectrum in order to get that common ground of equality, equity, inclusion and diversity for all and combat climate change at the same time.”
And, of course, it works both ways. Associations with lack of such policies can learn from a more advanced destination. “If the destinations have got clear environmental action plans; if they have clear DEI policies; ifthey have case studies on how this could work; if they have the research on community engagement; that’s how they could guide an association who may not have the concern about environmental impact. The destination puts forward the choices for the for that client to choose on the venues, the foods, the travel, the very basic things. That’s where we can still inform change and create change because the destination is not allowing the bad practices to take place,” says Archibald.
“My hope is that in a year from now the industry has adopted common standards on DEI and climate change and that those are manifested in business events creating bright examples to guide us into a better future,” he concludes.